History & Achievements

The Mammal Society was established by a group of mammalogists in April 1954 with the aim of making information about mammals more accessible and to provide a place where those working for mammas could meet, network and share their ideas for the benefit of research and conservation efforts.
Photo: Attendees at the first Spring Conference, Exeter University, 1955.

In our 60 year history, The Mammal Society has grown and achieved a lot for mammal research and conservation.

The Early Years

1954: A meeting is held at the University of Birmingham by a number of mammalogists, to discuss the need for a mammal society. We are established, with the first Annual Conference being held a year later in April 1955, at Exeter University.

1957: Our first publication, "Field Guide to British Deer", was published. This was the fist time a pubication on the ecology and biology of a British mammal was put together in an accessible format for the general public interested in learning more about deer.

1959: First national Bat-ringing Scheme and National Badger Survey are completed. County recorders are appointed to collect the data and respond to the high level of interest in these species.


1963: The first edition of the 'Handbook of British Mammals' is published. Now on its 4th edition, published in 2008, it remains the pre-eminent publication of The Mammal Society. Previous editions appeared in 1977 and 1991.

1965: The first National Mammal Distribution Survey is completed since 1904, responding to a desperate shortage of information on populations and distribution. Applying scientific rigour and expertise to all its work made The Society the trusted source and authority on mammals of the British Isles.

1955: The Bulletin is circulated bi-annually to members, as an 'unofficial' summary of current research on mammals; Notes on British Mammals, a collation of scientific papers reprinted from the Journal of Zoology, ran alongside this until 1997.

February 1970: The first issue of our scientific journal Mammal Review is published to replace the Bulletin. Today, Mammal Review is an internationally cited journal of mammalogy.

March 1970: The first members' Newsletter was published. It was renamed Mammal News in 1991.

1975: "Idetification of prey remains in owl pellets" is published.

1982: "Live Trapping Small Mammals" is published.

1984: The first of the new species guides series, "Woodmice", "Foxes" and "Fallow Deer", are published.

2003: The definitive "How to Find and Identify Mammals" is first published.

Surveys and Monitoring

1971: First 10km-square (hectad) Atlas of British Mammals is published in Mammal Review, the result of collaboration with hundreds of recorders, and the first atlas of any animal group at this scale; only a botannical atlas preceded it.

1973 - 1977: First national Harvest mouse survey completed, based on finding nests.

1980: The Mammal Society critically responded to the Lord Zuckerman report "Badgers, Cattle and Tuberculosis", published in Nature.

1985 - 1988: First systematic national survey of Badger distribution and status in Great Britain completed. This was completed a second time between 1994 and 1997.

1991 - 1993: First national survey of Brown hare distribution and status in Great Britain completed. This was repeated between 1997 and 1999.

1993: Published the first Red Data Book for Mammals, along with a definitive Atlas of British Mammals, collating all the records submitted to us and the Biological Records Centre.

1998: First Yellow-necked mouse survey completed.

1999 - 2000 (and 2001): First National Fox Survey completed, using transect surveys to find scats.

2004 - 2005: Carried out first-ever national survey of Water Shrew distribution and habitat requirements, exploiting the new technique of bait-tubes.