Richard Pearson

Research Associate


Research Interests

Richard Pearson is a Research Associate at AMNH and a lecturer at University College London. Richard completed his Ph.D. in biogeography at the University of Oxford in 2004 and joined the AMNH in 2005. He was the Director of Biodiversity Informatics Research at the AMNH’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation until 2013. Richard’s research seeks to explain the distribution of species at large spatial scales, from landscape to continental, and to understand the processes by which distributions change over time. His research falls largely within the field of biogeography and addresses questions that span ecology, evolution and conservation. Key questions of interest concern the relationship between ecological niches and geographic distributions, and the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

While Richard’s research is principally question-driven, he also develops and tests novel tools of analysis, including ecological niche models (species distribution models). These models make use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and data from a variety of sources, including natural history museum collections, recent field surveys, and remote sensing. Since Richard’s interests are primarily in understanding general ecological and evolutionary principles, his research is not confined to a particular type of organism, habitat or region. To date, he has studied amphibians, reptiles, birds, plants, and primates in Europe, Madagascar, North America, South Africa and the Arctic.


Fordham, D.A., Akçakaya, H.R., Araújo, M.B., Elith, J., Keith, D., Pearson, R.G., Auld, T., Mellin, C., Morgan, J.W., Regan, T., Tozer, M., Watts, M., White, M., Wintle, B., Yates, C. & Brook, B.W. 2012. Plant extinction risk under climate change: are forecast range shifts alone a good indicator of species vulnerability to global warming? Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02614.x.

Stanton, J. C., Pearson, R. G., Horning, N., Ersts, P. J. & Akçakaya, H. R. 2011. Combining static and dynamic landscape variables in predicting species' range shifts under climate change. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00157.x.

Robinson, L., Elith, J., Hobday, A., Pearson, R.G., Kendall, B.E., Possingham, H.P., Richardson, A.J. 2011. Pushing the limits in marine species distribution modelling: lessons from the land present challenges and opportunities. Global Ecology and Biogeography20:789-802.

Brook, B.W., Akçakaya, H.R., Keith, D.A., Mace, G.M., Pearson, R.G., Araújo, M.B. 2009. Integrating bioclimate with population models to improve forecasts of species extinctions under climate change. Biology Letters 5:723-725.

Pearson, R.G. & Raxworthy, C.J. 2009. The evolution of local endemism in Madagascar: watershed vs. climatic gradient hypotheses evaluated by null biogeographic models. Evolution 63:959-967.

Teaching Experience

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