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Mr Brett Wilson

Post Graduate Student


Brett graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with a BA in Natural Sciences and went on to obtain an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London the following year. His Masters thesis focused on the conservation status of a rare wild apple, Malus niedzwetzkyana, in Kyrgyzstan and the extent of threats to its survival. In addition to his academic work, during this time he also undertook work as a biodiversity researcher for a logging company in Peru, and as a conservation intern on a private game reserve in South Africa. In 2017, after graduating from Imperial College London, he became an intern at Botanic Garden Conservation International where he focused on publishing both species and broader reports for the IUCN Red List. He began his PhD at the University of Cambridge in October 2018 and his research is focused on untangling the phylogeny of wild tulips and their evolutionary history with a view to guiding the conservation work of Fauna & Flora International, who are his iCASE partner. He is now also part of a Darwin funded project targeted at protecting tulip diversity in Kyrgyzstan with partners at the National Academy of Science Bishkek and at Kyrgyz pasture management organisations.

Research Interests

Brett is a conservation researcher who is interested in the boundary between scientific research and conservation action. He aims to work closely with conservation organisations with the view to providing an evidence-base to guide their work. His main interests lie in the evolutionary understanding of plants and especially tulips. He is keen to explore how a firm understanding of tulip taxonomy and evolutionary history can inform conservation action both on the ground and through the IUCN Red List. He is also interested in ex-situ management and works closely with both Cambridge University Botanic Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to both gather information and samples for their tulip collections.

Other Professional Activities

Brett also acts on two other research fronts:

  1. He works closely with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens providing scientific input on their tulip collections and actively working with partners across the globe to expand these collections.
  2. He also manages a tulip blog and instagram account following the tulip research project with a view to disseminating information to a wider audience. 

Key Publications

Wilson, B., Mills, M., Kulikov, M., & Clubbe, C. (2019). The future of walnut–fruit forests in Kyrgyzstan and the status of the iconic Endangered apple Malus niedzwetzkyana. Oryx, 53(3), 415-423. doi:10.1017/S0030605318001230

Wilson, B., Beech, E., Window, J., Allen, D.J. and Rivers, M. (2019). European Red List of selected endemic shrubs. Brussels and Cambridge: IUCN. Available at:

Other Publications

Over 40 published IUCN Red List reports with example below:

Kavak, S. & Wilson, B. 2018. Liquidambar orientalisThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T62556A42326468.

Filed under:

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