Dr Olivia Norfolk

Lecturer in Animal & Environmental Biology

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Animal and environmental biology

Research Supervision:Yes

An ecologist whose research focuses upon the impact of agriculture and urbanisation upon communities and ecosystem services.


Twitter: @olivianorfolk


Olivia’s research focuses upon the impact that land-use change has upon biodiversity and ecosystems. Her postdoctoral research was based at the York Institute of Tropical Ecosystems and investigated the impact that agriculture and tropical deforestation have upon East African bird and butterfly communities. Prior to this she completed her PhD at the University of Nottingham which assessed the impact of traditional Bedouin orchards on biodiversity within South Sinai, Egypt. This work explored the dynamics of plant-pollinator interactions within these diverse cropping systems, and demonstrated that flowering minority crops enhance pollination of almond. Olivia specialises in pollinator conservation and is particularly interested in the ecological value of traditional agricultural systems.

Research interests

  • Agro-ecology - particularly within traditional farming systems
  • Pollinator conservation - mutualistic networks, functional traits, crop pollination
  • Tropical ecology - the effects of deforestation on East African biodiversity and species traits.
  • Rainwater harvesting - a strategy to enhance crop production and ecosystem services in arid environments?
  • Culture and conservation - the role of culture and traditions in biodiversity conservation. Focus on Bedouin traditions within South Sinai, Egypt.

Olivia is a member of our Applied Ecology Research Group.

Areas of research supervision

Olivia welcomes enquiries from prospective postgraduate students in the areas of her research interests.

Find out more about our Biology PhD and our exciting PhD project opportunities.


  • PhD in Life Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • MRes in Ecology, University of Nottingham
  • BSc Hons in Zoology, University of Nottingham

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of British Ecological Society
  • Member of the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) Working Group on Drylands
  • Reviewer for journals including Diversity & Distributions, Insect Conservation & Diversity, Journal of Insect Conservation, Agronomy for Sustainable Development

Selected recent publications

Norfolk, O., Eichhorn, M. and Gilbert, F., 2015. Flowering ground vegetation increases wild pollinator densities and enhances fruit set in an orchard crop. Insect Diversity and Conservation, 9, pp.236–243.

Capitania, C., Norfolk, O., Platts, P., Marchant, R., Burgess, N., Mukama, K., Mbilinyie, B., Malugde, I. and Munishi, P., 2015. Exploring the future land use-biodiversity-climate nexus in East Africa: an application of participatory scenario analysis. Global Land Project News. 12, pp.10-14.

Norfolk, O., Eichhorn, M. & Gilbert, F., 2014. Contrasting patterns of turnover between plants, pollinators and their interactions. Diversity and Distributions. 21, pp.405-415.

Hudson, L. ...Norfolk, O., et al., 2014. The PREDICTS database: a global database of how local terrestrial biodiversity responds to human impacts. Ecology and Evolution, 12, pp.1-35.

Norfolk, O., Eichhorn, M. and Gilbert, F., 2014. Culturally valuable minority crops provide a succession of floral resources for flower visitors in traditional orchard gardens. Biodiversity and Conservation. 23, pp.3199-3217.

Norfolk, O., Power, A., Eichhorn, M. and Gilbert, F., 2014. Migratory bird species benefit from traditional agricultural gardens in arid South Sinai. Journal of Arid Environments. 114, pp.110-115.

Norfolk, O., Eichhorn, M. and Gilbert, F., 2013. Traditional agricultural gardens conserve wild plants and functional richness in arid South Sinai. Basic and Applied Ecology. 14, pp.659-669.

Recent presentations and conferences

Gilbert, F., Norfolk, O. & Gilbert, H., 2015. Orchard agriculture and pollination in South Sinai. Oral presentation: BES Annual meeting, Edinburgh.

Norfolk, O., 2014. Crop diversity & pollinator conservation: what can we learn from traditional systems? Oral presentation: BES and SFE Annual meeting, Lille, France.

Norfolk, O., 2014. Contrasting patterns of turnover in plants, pollinators and their interactions. Oral presentation: BES Macroecology Meeting, Nottingham.

Norfolk, O., 2013. Crop diversity and seasonal planting increase the resilience of plant-pollinator networks. Poster presentation: Biodiversity Resilience Symposium, Oxford.