John Flowerdew

John Flowerdew

BSc MA DPhil

  • Position Emeritus Fellow
  • Email
  • Phone number 01223 336609

John's main interest is British mammal ecology. He has lectured widely on mammalian faunal history, ecology/reproduction, human-environment impacts and marine biology. His research covers mammal population ecology (pesticide, deer and long-term environmental impacts), historical ecology, ecological methods, reproductive anatomy, and population modelling. 

John Flowerdew

Always deeply interested in mammal ecology, John joined the Mammal Society at school (1961) and later The British Ecological Society and The American Society of Mammalogists. His Zoology BSc (1967) led to a DPhil on experimental small mammal population ecology (Oxford, 1971). Starting in 1972, teaching Cambridge undergraduates dovetailed with mammal research and extramural lecturing/field courses. In retirement he supervises Cambridge undergraduate Zoology dissertations and lectures in Part II Zoology (Holocene and modern biodiversity of British mammals). 

As an authority on British mammals he has co-authored species reviews of The Bank vole and The Wood mouse for The Mammal Society’s Handbook of British Mammals (1977, 1991, 2008) and co-authored Live Trapping Small Mammals. A Practical Guide (1982, 1990, 1994, 2006, 2019, in press). He served on the Editorial Board of Mammal Review (1975-2010) and co-edited/organized a Symposium on The Ecology of Woodland Rodents in 1985. He has published two books: Mammals. Their reproductive biology and population ecology (1987) and Mice and Voles (1993).  In 1980 he joined MAFF’s 10-year pesticide study, The Boxworth Project: The Environmental Effects of Pesticides in the Cereal Ecosystem, HMSO (1993), publishing on the effects of methiocarb molluscicide pellets on wood mouse populations and the diet of shrews. He has produced 60 mammal research papers, books and reviews. He was awarded The Mammal Society’s Silver Medal in 1986 for his contributions to the Society and to mammal ecology.

John served as Wolfson’s Undergraduate Admissions Tutor (Sciences/Medicine) from 2000-2008. With then-Senior Tutor Joan Whitehead he helped develop structured interviews and numerical assessment for the Graduate Course in Medicine, now offered to increased numbers by mature colleges.  As Emeritus Fellows’ External Events (Joint) Secretary (2014-2018), he organized many visits, including the annual North Norfolk coastal walk, Woolsthorpe Manor (Sir Isaac Newton’s birthplace) and Harlaxton Manor among others.

He has held the following positions:

University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology Research Group/Corpus Christi College,1967-1970
NERC Research Student 
Demonstrator: Biology for Geologists, Marine Biology Field Course, 1st and 3rd year Zoology (Ecology)

University of Keele 1970-1972
Demonstrator,  Department of Biological Sciences

University of Cambridge, Department of Applied Biology
University Demonstrator, 1972-1977
University Lecturer, 1977-1989
Academic Librarian, 1985-89
Co-ordinator, Assistant Staff Appointments 1986-1989

Royal Holloway College & Wye College, University of London
Leader/lecturer, Ecology of small mammals field courses 1973-1975, 1978

Field Studies Council, Dale Fort Field Centre, Pembrokeshire
Leader/lecturer, Ecology of small mammals field courses 1973-1975

University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology
University Lecturer, 1989-2006
Co-ordinator/Organizer/Leader, Part 1A Organisms (Marine Biology) Field Course(s) 1994-2006
Academic Librarian, Chair of Library Committee, Balfour Library 1990-2006
Committee member, University Library Science Sub-Syndicate 2004-2006
Department Graduate Student ‘Uncle’, Part II Zoology Admissions Co-ordinator (various dates)
Research Fellow 2006-present
Supervisor & Assessor, University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology, Part II Zoology and Part II Biological and Biomedical Science (BBS) Zoology 2006-present
Part-time Lecturer & Demonstrator. Part II Zoology/Part II BBS Zoology. Module L1, Mammalian Evolution and Faunal History topics ‘Holocene and Modern Diversity of the British Isles’and ‘Introduced Mammals, past, present and future – impacts and mitigation’. 2018-2019

University of Waikato, New Zealand
Visiting researcher/lecturer (sabbatical) 1999

Wolfson College Cambridge
Senior Member, 1989-1997
Fellow, 1997-2006
Admissions Tutor (Undergraduate) & Tutor, 2000-2008
Emeritus Fellow, 2008-present
Member of Emeritus Fellows Committee, 2008-various periods-2018
Emeritus Fellows External Events Secretary (jointly with Dr Peter Beaumont), 2014-2018

Other interests/outreach etc.
President, Cambridge Natural History Society, 1987-1988
Lecturer, Workers’ Education Association, Dept. of Zoology, Royal Holloway College; Field Studies Council Dale Fort,  Wye College, University of London, University of Keele, Lincoln University (New Zealand), Cambridge Mammal Group. Various dates
The Mammal Society. Council Member, Conference Secretary, Hon. Secretary, Publications Officer, Vice-Chairman. 1973-various periods-2000

Research interests

In 2017 John jointly published with W.J. Sutherland and T. Amano the analysis of 33 years of bank vole and wood mouse population fluctuations, tree seed-fall and winter temperatures studied in a Derbyshire ash wood. (Strong "bottom-up" influences on small mammal populations: State-space model analyses from long-term studiesEcology and Evolution , Volume 7). This has been his main project since retirement. In 2018 he attended the British Ecological  Society’s meeting on Long-term observations and experiments: their value and the difficulties of keeping them going, and regularly attends the Mammal Society’s Annual Conference.

Publications in press include the distribution/ecology of the wood mouse and house mouse for the Mammal Society’s Atlas of British Mammals (Ed. D. Whiteley) and, with J. Gurnell, Live trapping small mammals. A Practical Guide

Public outreach has included extramural and Natural History Society lecturing as well as two reviews in 2004: Advances in the conservation of British mammals, 1954-2004: 50 years of progress with The Mammal Society (Mammal Review:  The Annual ‘Cranbrook (Public) Lecture’, Mammal Society 50th Anniversary Conference, Aston University) and, analysing the Mammal Society’s and his own research/citizen-science on Live trapping to monitor small mammals in Britain.  Other outreach includes the Mammal Society’s 60 for 6’, the 60th Anniversary weekly blog (2014) on The yellow-necked mouse and in  Mammal NewsThe study of British small mammals – 60 years on (2014), which echoed an article by his Oxford supervisor, the late H.N. (Mick) Southern, published in the Mammal Society Bulletin (1954), and, with Oxford’s  ‘apprentice technician’ from 1948, Kenneth Marsland, who helped make the prototype small mammal trap at Charles Elton’s Bureau of Animal Population,  The History of the Longworth Trap (2015).

His most recent lecture to the Cambridge Mammal Group was in February 2019, on Introduced Mammals in Britain - past, present and future.