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 mammals 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.


2010-2014 and beyond

In 2014 we launched the national recording app Mammal Tracker, free to download and brought the definitive "How to Find and Identify Mammals" back into print.
In 2013 we secured funding from NRW for a mammal monitoring network in Wales, and from HLF to the MaWSE project to map mammals in the South East by 2015. 
In 2011 we started the Autumn regional seminars in partnership with local groups, which replaced the London-based symposia.
In 2010 we launched the National Mammal Atlas Project (NMAP), to gather distribution data from 2000 onwards. We also moved away from one-off surveys to ongoing monitoring, to detect changes and declines as they occur. 

Advocating sound science and conservation

The Mammal Society started comunicating with decision makers in the 1980s, responding critically to the Lord Zuckerman report "Badgers, Cattle and Tuberculosis", published in Nature. Since then, we regularly issue position statements, including our 2009/10 Badger cull statement. Since 2009 we also work closely with the Wildlife & Countryside LINK to support joint campaigns from conservation organisations aimed at decisions makers.

Surveys and Monitoring

In 1965, we completed the first National Mammal Distribution Survey since 1904, followed by the first 10km-square Atlas of British Mammals. This was a huge recording achievement; only a botannical atlas preceeded it. The National Harvest Mouse Survey, based on nest searches, ran in the 1970s and 1990s which highlighted a decline and led to their BAP status. Between 1985-1988 the first systemic Badger distribution survey ran, producing best practice guidance for Surveying Badgers (PDF). It was repeated in the 90s, followed by the first national distribution surveys for Brown Hare and Yellow-necked mouse. In 1993, we published a definitive Atlas of British Mammals with the JNCC as one of the lead partners of the Tracking Mammals Partnership.

Communicating Science

In 1963 came the first Handbook of British Mammals, now in it's 4th edition from 2008. The Bulletin was circulated to members as an unofficial summary of recent research, replaced by Mammal Review in 1970, now an internationally cited journal of mammalogy. The more detailed 'Notes on British Mammals', a collation of papers reprinted from the Journal of Zoology, ran alongside this until 1997. The more informal members' Newsetter started in 1991, now Mammal News. Live Trapping Small Mammals was first published in 1982, with the species guide series starting in 1984.

The Early Years

In April 1954, a meeting of mammalogists at Birmingham University established The Mammal Society of the British Isles, with the first Spring Conference being held a year later at Exeter University. We published "Field Guide to British Deer" in 1957, the fist pubication on the ecology and biology of a British mammal to be available in an accessible format for the general public. After this in 1959 we established the national Bat-ringing Scheme and completed the first National Badger Survey. County recorders were appointed to collect data and respond to the high level of public interest.