John Birks's picture

John Birks

Professor, Professor Emeritus in Quantitative Palaeoecology and Ecology
  • E-mailJohn.Birks@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 33 50
  • Visitor Address
    Thormøhlensgt. 53 A/B
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7803
    5020 Bergen

Quaternary palaeoecology, pollen analysis, vegetation history, quantitative palaeoecology and palaeolimnology, quantitative environmental reconstructions, community ecology, plant geography, bryology, alpine plant ecology.

ORCiD: H. John B. Birks

Google Scholar: H John B Birks

Invited lectures in Bio-250 Palaeoecology

Selected publications (a more complete list can be found here)


Birks, H.J.B., Lotter, A.F., Juggins, S. and Smol, J.P. (eds.) (2012) Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments. Volume 5: Data Handling and Numerical Techniques. Springer, Dordrecht, 745 pp.

Averis, A.M., Averis, A.B.G., Birks, H.J.B., Horsfield, D., Thompson, D.B.A. and Yeo, M.J.M. (2004) An Illustrated Guide to British Upland Vegetation. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, 454 pp

Birks, H.J.B. and Gordon, A.D. (1985) Numerical Methods in Quaternary Pollen Analysis. Academic Press, 317 pp. (translated into Chinese by Shen Caiming and published by Nanjing University Press, China, 239 pp).

Huntley, B. and Birks, H.J.B. (1983) An Atlas of Past and Present Pollen Maps for Europe: 0‑13000 years ago. Cambridge University Press, 667 pp.

Birks, H.J.B. and Birks, H.H. (1980) Quaternary Palaeoecology. Edward Arnold, 289 pp.

Birks, H.J.B. (1973) Past and Present Vegetation of the Isle of Skye ‑ a Palaeoecological Study. Cambridge University Press, 415 pp.


Birks, H.J.B.,  Birks, H.H. & Ammann, B. 2016. The fourth dimension of vegetation. Science 354: 412-413. 10.1126/science.aai8737

Birks, H.J.B., Felde, V.A. & Seddon, A.W.R. 2016. Biodiversity trends within the Holocene. The Holocene 26: 994-1001. 10.1177/095968361562256

Birks, H.J.B., Felde, V.A., Bjune, A.E., Grytnes, J.-A., Seppä, H. & Giesecke, T. 2016. Does pollen-assemblage richness reflect floristic richness? A review of recent developments and future challenges. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 228: 1-25. 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2015.12.011

Felde, V.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Torres, V. & Birks, H.J.B. 2016. Detecting patterns of change in a long pollen-stratigraphical sequence from Funza, Colombia – a comparison of new and traditional numerical approaches. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 234: 94-109. 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2016.08.003

Herzschuh, U., Birks, H.J.B., Laepple, T., Andreev, A., Melles, M. & Brigham-Grette, J. 2016. Glacial legacies on interglacial vegetation at the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition in Asia. Nature Communications 7: 11967. 10.1038/ncomms11967

Steinbauer, M.J., Field, R., and 33 co-authors including Grytnes, J.-A., Birks, H.J.B. & Vetaas, O.R. 2016. Topography-driven isolation, speciation and a global increase of endemism with elevation. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25: 1097-1107. 10.1111/geb.12469

Birks, H.J.B. 2015. Some reflections on the refugium concept in historical biogeography, contemporary ecology, and global-change biology. Biodiversity 16: 196-212. 10.1080/14888386.2015.1117022

Wasof, S., Lenoir, J. and 46 co-authors including Birks, H.J.B., Grytnes, J.-A. & Vandvik, V. 2015. Disjunct populations of European vascular plant species keep the same climatic niches. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24: 1401-1412. 10.1111/geb.12375

Birks, H.J.B. and Willis, K.J. (2008) Alpines, trees, and refugia in Europe. Plant Ecology and Diversity 1: 147-160.  10.1080/17550870802349146

Birks, H.H. and Birks, H.J.B. (2000) Future uses of pollen analysis must  include plant macrofossils. Journal of Biogeography 27, 31-35.  10.1046/j.1365-2699.2000.00375.x

Birks, H.J.B. and Line, J.M. (1992) The use of rarefaction analysis for estimating palynological richness from Quaternary pollen-analytical data. The Holocene 2, 1-10.  10.1177/095968369200200101

Birks, H.J.B., Line, J.M., Juggins, S., Stevenson, A.C. and ter Braak, C.J.F. (1990) Diatoms and pH reconstruction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 327, 263‑278.  10.1098/rstb.1990.0062

Birks, H.J.B. (1989) Holocene isochrone maps and patterns of tree‑spreading in the British Isles. Journal of Biogeography 16, 503‑540.  10.2307/2845208

Qualifications and society memberships

BA (1966), PhD (1969), MA (1970), ScD (1981) University of Cambridge

Philosophiae Doctor Honoris Causa (1998) University of Lund

Foreign Member, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (1987), The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2014), and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2016)


Bicentenary Medal of the Linnean Society of London (1982)

Władysław Szafer Medal of the Polish Academy of Sciences (1986)

Fridtjof Nansen Prize, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (1998)

Rector's Medal, University of Helsinki (1998)

Fridtjof Nansen Medal, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (2003)

Honorary Fellow, Botanical Society of Scotland (2004)

President's Prize, Botanical Society of the British Isles (2005)

Honorary Fellow, University College London (2010)

Lifetime Acheivement Award and Medal, International Paleolimnology Association (2012)

HOPE Humans on Planet Earth - long-term impacts on biosphere dynamics

IGNEX Interglacials and glacials - natural experiments in biodiversity dynamics

IGNEX-eco applying the ideas of IGNEX to restoration ecology, landscape management, and conservation

PollChem Pollen Chemistry as the Next Generation Tool in Palaeoecological Research - Theory, Methods and Applications