For 90 years, the Institute has focused on the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of mammals and birds.
Today, it is working with colleagues in UK, Europe, USA, and the tropics and is involved in studies and networks that include:
biodiversity inventories, taxonomy and discovery
citizen-science and community-led conservation
rodents as pests of tropical agriculture
bat-borne and rodent-borne viruses, including coronavirus
environmental change and its impact on faunal diversity, composition and abundance
mammal, bird, and amphibian conservation
conservation in the context of human behaviour
biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.
Currently, all of the Institute’s projects are focused on the tropics and subtropics.
Harrison Institute staff, with international colleagues and students, have published more than 350 scientific papers, reports, and action plans on the world’s biodiversity. Many of these publications have been based on the Institute's zoological collections, which are recognised as being of national and international importance.
Staff have also published monographs on 'The Mammals of Arabia', 'Bats of the Indian Subcontinent' and 'Small Mammals of Nepal'.
Since 1956, Institute staff have jointly described 23 mammal species new to science (bats and rodents) from Asia, Arabia and Africa (see map of type localities below).
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.
Between 1970 and 2015, Institute staff researched and published extensively on the evolutionary history of mammals. This comprised scientific papers on the fossil faunas of the UK, Poland, and Thailand, ranging from the late Pleistocene back to the early Eocene, and included the description of two new genera and four new species of fossil mammal.