Professor Saul Cunningham

B.Sc. Hons (Zoology) Monash, Ph.D. (Ecology) University of Connecticut, USA

Saul’s first experience of research was as an honours student at Monash University. He then received a Fulbright award to support Ph.D. studies in the USA with field work in Costa Rica. Having been awarded his Ph.D. in 1995 he returned home to Australia and commenced post-doctoral projects at Macquarie University, before joining CSIRO in Canberra as a research scientist. Over a 17 year period with CSIRO Saul developed a research program focusing on the challenge of maintaining biodiversity in landscapes dedicated to agricultural production. He has worked with farming industry groups, local landholder groups, and a wide network of international colleagues with shared interests.

In 2015 the Ecological Society of Australia honoured Saul with the “Australian Ecology Research Award.” He was a contributor to the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment report on Pollination and Food production, published in 2016. He has editorial roles with “Global Food Security” and the “Journal of Pollination Ecology”.

Research interests

Saul Cunningham is interested in finding ways that we can manage farming landscapes to preserve biodiversity while supporting production. In pursuing this overarching challenge his work ranges across specific questions regarding the fundamental determinants of diversity, methods of ecological restoration, management to increase farm productivity, and more. He has worked extensively on crop pollination, which is an input to agricultural production that has been poorly understood and which generally depends on wild insects living in the agricultural landscape.

Areas of expertise

  • Applied ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Crop pollination
  • Agricultural landscapes

Research Gate

Google Scholar

Selected recent publications

Dicks LV, Viana B, Bommarco R, Brosi B, del Coro Arizmendi M, Cunningham SA, Galetto L, Hill R, Lopes AV, Pires C, Taki H, Potts SG (2016) Ten policies to protect pollinators and pollination worldwide Science (in press)

Garibaldi LA, Gemmill-Herren B, D’Annolfo R, Graeub BE, Cunningham SA, Breeze TD 2016 Farming approaches for greater biodiversity, livelihoods and food security Trends in Ecology and Evolution (on-line early)

Cunningham SA (2016) Human welfare and its connection to nature: what have we learned from crop pollination studies? Austral Ecology (on-line early)

Cunningham SA, Fournier A, Neave M, Le Feuvre D (2016) Improving spatial arrangement of honeybee colonies to avoid pollination shortfall and depressed fruit set. Journal of Applied Ecology 53: 350-359

Potts SG, Imperatriz-Fonseca VL, Ngo HT, Biesmeijer JC, Breeze TD, Dicks LV, Garibaldi LA, Hill R, Settele J, Vanbergen AJ, Aizen MA, Cunningham SA, Eardley C, Freitas BM, Gallai N, Kevan PG, Kovacs-Hostyanszki A, Kwapong PK, Li J, Li X, Martins DJ, Nates-Parra G, Pettis JS, Viana BF 2016 Summary for policymakers of the assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on pollinators, pollination and food production. Pp 1-30

Rader R, Bartomeus I, Garibaldi LA, Garratt MPD, Howlett BG, Cunningham SA, Mayfield M, Arthur A, Andersson GKS, Blanche KR, Bommarco R, Brittain C, Carvalheiro LG, Chacoff NP, Entling MH, Foully B, Freitas BM, Gemmill-Herren B, Ghazoul J, Griffin S, Gross C, Herbertsson L, Herzog F, Hipolito J, Jaggar S, Jauker F, Klein AM, Kleijn D, Krishnan S, Lemos CQ, Lindstrom SAM, Mandelik Y, Monteiro VM, Nelson W, Nilsson L, Pattemore D, Periera N deO, Pisanty G, Potts SG, Reemer M, Rundlof M, Sheffield CS, Scheper J, Schuepp C, Smith HG, Stanley DA, Stout JC, Szentgyörgyi H, Taki H, Vergara CH, Viana B, Woyciechowski M, Winfree R (2016) Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 113: 146-151

Cunningham SA, Rader R, Saunders M (2016) Agricultural Beescapes. Pp. 26-35 In Australian Native Bees: a practical handbook. NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Cunningham SA (2016) Can recognition of ecosystem services help biodiversity conservation? In Learning from agri-environment schemes in Australia: Investing in biodiversity and other ecosystem services on farms. (Eds. D Ansell, F Gibson, D Salt)

Garibaldi LA, Bartomeus I, Bommarco R, Klein AM, Cunningham SA, Aizen MA, Boreux V, Garratt, MPD, Carvalheiro LG, Kremen C, Morales, CL, Schüepp, CL, Chacoff NP, Freitas BM, Gagic, V, Holzschuh A, Klatt BK, Krewenka KM, Krishnan S, Mayfield MM, Motzke I, Otieno M, Petersen J, Potts SG, Ricketts TH, Rundlöf M, Sciligo A, Sinu PA, Steffan-Dewenter I, Taki H, Tscharntke T, Vergara CH, Viana BF, Woyciechowski M (2015) Trait matching of flower visitors and crops predicts fruit set better than trait diversity.  Journal of Applied Ecology 52: 1436-1444

Lakeman-Fraser P, Ewers R, Cunningham SA (2014) The ecological consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation in New Zealand and Australia. Pp. 45- 64 In Austral Ark: The State of Wildlife in Australia and New Zealand. (Eds.) Stow A, MacLean N, Holwell GI  Cambridge University Press

Cunningham SA, Le Feuvre D (2013) Significant yield benefits from honeybee pollination of faba bean (Vicia faba) assessed at field scale Field Crops Research 149: 269-275

Cunningham SA, Attwood SJ, Bawa KS, Benton TG, Broadhurst LM, Didham RK, McIntyre S, Perfecto I, Samways MJ, Tscharntke T, Vandermeer J, Villard M-A, Young AG, Lindenmayer DB (2013) To close the yield-gap while saving biodiversity will require multiple locally relevant strategies. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 173: 20-27

Garibaldi LA, Steffan-Dewenter I, Winfree R, Aizen MA, Bommarco R, Cunningham SA, Kremen C, Carvalheiro LG, Harder LD, Afik O, Bartomeus I, Benjamin F, Boreux V, Cariveau D, Chacoff NP, Dudenhöffer JH, Freitas BM, Ghazoul J, Greenleaf S, Hipólito J, Holzschuh A, Howlett B, Isaacs R, Javorek SK, Kennedy CM, Krewenka K, Krishnan S, Mandelik Y, Mayfield MM, Motzke I, Munyuli T, Nault BA, Otieno M, Petersen J, Pisanty G, Potts SG, Rader R, Ricketts TH, Rundlöf M, Seymour CL, Schüepp C, Szentgyörgyi H, Taki H, Tscharntke T, Vergara CH, Viana BF, Wanger TC, Westphal C, Williams N, Klein AM (2013) Wild pollinators enhance fruit set of crops regardless of honey bee abundance. Science 339: 1608-1611

Barton PS, Cunningham SA, Manning AD, Gibb H, Lindenmayer DB, Didham R. (2013) The spatial scaling of beta diversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography 22: 639-647

Cunningham SA, Schellhorn NA, Marcora A, Batley M. (2013) Movement and phenology of bees in a sub-tropical Australian agricultural landscape. Austral Ecology 38: 456-464

Kennedy CM, Lonsdorf E, Neel MC, Williams NM, Ricketts TH, Winfree R, Bommarco R, Brittain C, Burley AL, Cariveau D, Carvalheiro LG, Chacoff NP, Cunningham SA, Danforth BN, Dudenhöffer J-H, Elle E, Gaines HR, Gratton C, Greenleaf SS, Holzschuh A, Javorek SK, Jha S, Klein AM, Krewenka K, Mandelik Y, Mayfield MM, Morandin L, Neame LA, Otieno M, Park M, Potts SG, Rundlöf M, Saez A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Taki H, Viana BF, Veldtman R, Westphal C, Wilson JK, Kremen C. (2013) A global quantitative synthesis of local and landscape effects on wild bee pollinators in agroecosystems. Ecology Letters 16: 584-599