Portrait of Dr Nicholas Macgregor

Dr Nicholas Macgregor

Honorary Senior Research Fellow


Dr Nicholas Macgregor has a PhD in Zoology from the University of Cambridge and previously studied at the Australian National University. From 2008 to 2017, he was principal specialist in landscape ecology at Natural England, where his role focused on science to develop conservation strategies. 

He returned to Australia in 2017 and is now working at Parks Australia on science to inform management of the Australian Commonwealth parks and gardens, a diverse set of protected areas that include tropical and temperate islands, tropical savanna, arid environments, temperate forest and woodland, and a variety of coastal and marine ecosystems. 

Dr Macgregor works with Professor Bob Smith and Professor Zoe Davies at DICE on various topics relating to conservation planning, including research on the spatial targeting and relative cost-effectiveness of different approaches to managing conservation land in England.

Research interests

Dr Macgregor's research interests reflect his current work at Parks Australia and the continuation of research started in the UK:

  • monitoring and management of ecosystems and threatened species
  • ecological networks
  • spatial prioritisation of conservation
  • adapting conservation to a changing climate
  • strategic planning and decisions in conservation

Current projects

  • Ecology and conservation of threatened species, including the Norfolk Island boobook owl and green parrot 
  • Assessment of distribution and abundance of threatened and feral species 
  • Optimisation of monitoring methods, including for the flying-fox and forest birds on Christmas Island
  • Measurement of ecosystem condition and change 
  • Development of adaptation strategies for protected areas 
  • The Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks (WrEN) project, a collaboration between the University of Stirling, Forest Research and Natural England (in partnership with several other organisations). This large-scale natural experiment is using the varied secondary woodlands that have been created over the last 150 years in England and Scotland to study the relative importance of a wide range of network attributes for different woodland species.

Selected Publications

  • Watts K, Whytock RC, Park KJ, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Macgregor NA, Duffield S, McGowan PJK (2020) The impact of ecological time-lags on biodiversity targets and the journey towards conservation success. Nature Ecology and Evolution 4:304–311
  • Suggitt AJ, Wilson RJ, Isaac NJB, Beale CM, Auffret AG, August T, Bennie JJ, Crick HQP, Duffield S, Fox R, Hopkins JJ, Macgregor NA, Morecroft MD, Walker KJ & Maclean IMD (2018) Extinction risk from climate change is reduced by microclimatic buffering. Nature Climate Change 8:713–717
  • Whytock RC, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Watts K, Macgregor NA, Williams L, Park KJ (2018) Context-dependent colonization of terrestrial habitat ‘islands’ by a long-distance migrant bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285:20181490
  • Pearce-Higgins JW, Beale CM, Oliver TH, August TA, Carroll M, Massimino D, Ockendon N, Savage J, Wheatley CJ, Ausden MA, Bradbury RB, Duffield SJ, Macgregor NA, McClean CJ, Morecroft MD, Thomas CD, Watts O, Beckmann BC, Fox R, Roy HE, Sutton PG, Walker KJ, Crick HQP (2017) A national-scale assessment of climate change impacts on species: Assessing the balance of risks and opportunities for multiple taxa. Biological Conservation 213: 124-134
  • Shwartz A, Davies ZG, Macgregor NA, Crick HQP, Clarke D, Eigenbrod F, Gonner G, Hill CT, Knight AT, Metcalfe K, Osborne PE, Phalan B & Smith RJ (2017) Scaling up from protected areas in England: the value of establishing large conservation areas. Biological Conservation 212: 279–287
  • Fuentes-Montemayor E, Watts K, Macgregor NA, Lopez-Gallego Z. and Park KJ (2017) Species mobility and landscape context determine the importance of local and landscape-level attributes. Ecological Applications 27: 1541–1554
  • Watts K, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Macgregor NA, Peredo-Alvarez V, Brown N, Ferryman M, Park K (2016) Using historical woodland creation to construct a long-term, large-scale natural experiment: the WrEN project. Ecology & Evolution 6: 3012–3025
  • Humphrey J, Watts K, Fuentes-Montemayor E, Macgregor NA, Peace A, Park K (2015) What can studies of woodland fragmentation and creation tell us about ecological networks? A literature synthesis. Landscape Ecology 30: 21-50
  • Macgregor NA, Van Dijk N (2014) Adaptation in practice: how managers of nature conservation areas in eastern England are responding to climate change. Environmental Management 54: 700-719
  • Morecroft MD, Crick HQP, Duffield SJ, Macgregor NA (2012) Resilience to climate change: translating principles into practice. Journal of Applied Ecology 49: 547-551
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