Dr Neil Brummitt

Neil Brummitt
  • Researcher, Botanical Diversity
  • Life Sciences department
  • Plants Division
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

  • Work experience, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1995–1997)
  • Scientific Officer, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1999)
  • Herbarium Liaison Officer for the Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003–2005)
  • Plant Diversity Analyst, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2005–2009)
  • Researcher in Botanical Diversity Natural History Museum (2010­–present)


  • BA (Hons) Biological Sciences, University of Oxford (1992–1995)
  • MSc (with distinction) Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants, University of Edinburgh / Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (1997–1998)
  • PhD Patterns in the Diversity and Distribution of Flowering Plant Genera, University of Edinburgh (1999–2004)


Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding the distribution of plant diversity, both at very large (global) scales and also, in collaboration with different colleagues, at regional and more local scales. This might be with specimen data for rates of publication of names, for numbers of species and for genera and higher taxa. In addition, I manage the plants side of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index which is undertaking conservation assessments for a representative sample of 7,000 species worldwide, based on herbarium specimen data. This is an official CBD indicator for the 2010 Biodiversity Target, and has already produced a scientifically-rigorous baseline of the current global conservation status of plants; from this an index of extinction risk can be calculated and, periodically re-assessing the same species, tracked over time to see whether or not “a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biodiversity” has been achieved. This project is a part of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), and is now being expanded into EDGE Plants, prioritising species through both their conservation status and their evolutionary distinctiveness. As well as forming the basis for the Sampled Red List Index for Plants, this dataset also provides an unrivalled opportunity for studies in ecological niche modelling and the impact of climate change on plant species.


PhD Students

Malin Rivers, 2007-present, PhD University of St Andrews. Thesis title: Conservation status and conservation genetics of Delonix (Leguminosae) in Madagascar. With Professor T.R. Meagher, University of St Andrews.

Chris McOwen, 2008-present, PhD University of St Andrews. Thesis title: Patterns of phylogenetic diversity and threat in species of monocots. With Professor T.R. Meagher, University of St Andrews.

Mindy Syfert, Oct 2009-present, PhD University of Cambridge. Thesis title: Novel computational approaches to modelling biodiversity – applications for setting conservation priorities. With Dr. David Coomes, University of Cambridge and Dr. Matt Smith, Microsoft Research.


Brummitt, N.A. & E. Nic Lughadha, 2003. Biodiversity – where’s hot and where’s not. Conservation Biology 17 (5): 1442–1448.

Brummitt, N.A. & T.M.A. Utteridge, 2003. A second species of Distyliopsis (Hamamelidaceae) from New Guinea. Kew Bullletin 58(4): 727–731.

Bachman, S.P., W. J. Baker, N.A. Brummitt, J. Dransfield & J. Moat, 2004. Elevational gradients, area and tropical island diversity: an example from the palms of New Guinea. Ecography 27 (3): 299–310.

Brummitt, N.A. & M. Cheek, 2004. Monimiaceae. In M. Cheek, B.J. Pollard, I. Darbyshire, J.-M. Onana & C. Wild (eds.) The Plants of Kupe, Mwanenguba and the Bakossi Mountains, Cameroon – a conservation checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.

Brummitt, N.A., 2005. Patterns in the global distribution of flowering plant genera. In I. Friis & H.Balslev (eds.) Plant Diversity and Complexity Patterns: local, regional and global dimensions. Biologiske Skrifter 55: 539–564.

Nic Lughadha, E., J. Baillie, W. Barthlott, N.A. Brummitt, M.R. Cheek, A. Farjon, R. Govaerts, K.A. Hardwick, C. Hilton-Taylor, T.R. Meagher, J. Moat, J. Mutke, A.J. Paton, L.J. Pleasants, V. Savolainen, G.E. Schatz, P. Smith, I. Turner, P. Wyse-Jackson & P.R. Crane, 2005. Measuring the fate of plant diversity: towards a foundation for future monitoring and opportunities for urgent action. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B Biological Sciences 360: 359–372.

Roberts, D.L. & N.A. Brummitt, 2006. The influence of geometric constraints on the colonisation, speciation and range expansion of orchids. Pp. 361–372 in S.A. Ghazanfar & H.J. Beentje (eds.) Taxonomy and ecology of African plants, their conservation and sustainable use. Proceedings of the XVIIth AETFAT Congress, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.

Brummitt, N.A. & K. Vollesen, 2006. Pavonia blepharicarpa (Malvaceae), a new species from East Africa. Kew Bulletin 61(4):1–4. 

Baillie, J.E.M., B. Collen, R. Amin, H.R. Akçakaya, S.H.M. Butchart, N.A. Brummitt, T.R. Meagher, M. Ram, C. Hilton-Taylor & G. Mace, 2008. Toward monitoring global biodiversity. Conservation Letters 1: 18–26.

Paton, A.J., N.A. Brummitt, R. Govaerts, K. Harman, S. Hinchcliffe, R. Allkin, & E.M. Nic Lughadha, 2008. A working list of all known plant species – progress and prospects towards Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Taxon 57(2): 602–611.

Brummitt, N.A., S. P. Bachman & J.F. Moat, 2008. Applications of the IUCN Red List: towards a global barometer for plant diversity. Endangered Species Research 6: 127–135.

Murray-Smith, C., N.A. Brummitt, S.P. Bachman, A.T. Oliveira-Filho, E. Nic Lughadha, J.F. Moat & E.J. Lucas, 2009. Plant diversity hotspots in the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil. Conservation Biology 23(1): 151–163.

Davis, A.P., R. Govaerts, D.M. Bridson, M. Ruhsam, J.F. Moat & N.A. Brummitt, 2009. A global analysis of distribution, diversity, endemism and taxonomic effort in Rubiaceae. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96: 68–78.

Marsh, S., N.A. Brummitt, R.P.J. de Kok &T.M.A. Utteridge, 2009. Large-scale patterns of plant diversity and conservation priorities in SE. Asia. Blumea 54: 103-108.