The Institute’s research primarily focuses on the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of mammals and birds, although staff also collaborate with others studying a range of different fauna and flora.  


Geographically, most of the Institute’s research takes place in the tropics and subtropics of Southeast and southern Asia, Arabia and Africa.


Over many years, the Institute has built up an extensive zoological collection (fossil and extant). It particularly specialised in small mammals from Europe, Arabia, tropical Asia and Africa. There is also an historical bird collection of almost 900 species. These originate from the 19th and 20th centuries and were collected in 95 different countries, although most are from the Palaearctic region. The collection is a fine resource for biodiversity researchers and is recognised as being of national and international importance.


Based on their research, Harrison Institute staff, with international colleagues and students, have published more than 350 scientific papers, reports, and action plans on the world’s biodiversity.


Since 1956, Institute staff have jointly described 23 mammal species new to science (bats and rodents) from Asia, Arabia and Africa (see map type of localities above). Despite a generally held belief that there are no more 'new mammals' to be discovered, seventeen of these descriptions have been since 2004. In addition, they have described three new genera and twelve new subspecies of mammal.

9 Biodiversity Research.jpg
8 Biodiversity Research.jpg


Staff have also published monographs on 'The Mammals of Arabia', 'Bats of the Indian Subcontinent' and 'Small Mammals of Nepal'.


Interest in the evolutionary history of mammals has seen Institute staff publish on the fossil faunas of the UK, Poland, and Thailand ranging from the late Pleistocene back to the early Eocene. This includes the description of two new genera and four new species of fossil mammal.