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Living with environmental change


To ensure that decision makers in government, business and society have the knowledge, foresight and tools to mitigate, adapt to and benefit from environmental change.

Scientific scope

Understanding and predicting the responses and adaptations of biological systems to environmental change, and the potential to mitigate associated problems or realise possible benefits, particularly relating to agricultural systems and aims of sustainable production.

In the wider context, BBSRC is a contributing partner to the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) Partnership, comprising 22 UK government departments and agencies, devolved administrations, local government and research councils. BBSRC has a leadership role in the LWEC Resources (Challenge C), one of six key research challenges, focused on food, water and other bio-based resources, and related waste issues.

Multifaceted and cross-disciplinary approaches are strongly encouraged under this priority, including proposals that cut across the biosciences or those that span the remit of BBSRC and other Research Councils, where the majority of work is within BBSRC's scientific remit (see the cross-Council funding agreement in external links). Where appropriate, bringing together multiples approaches across the natural, environmental, physical, mathematical, computational and social sciences is highly encouraged. We also strongly encourage research that aims to develop knowledge and tools for industry and evidence-based policy, and foster knowledge exchange between sectors.

Living with environmental change priorities overlap with those of the food security priority, which describes BBSRC's contribution to the multi-partner Global Food Security Programme. Food security aims and priorities are those of sustainable agricultural production. For BBSRC, Living with environmental change priorities largely reflect the issues of setting sustainable production into the context of changing environments, and meeting the specific challenges that arise from this. We strongly encourage research at this interface of priorities.

Many of the key scientific opportunities that span the interface between BBSRC and NERC science areas fall within the living with environmental change priority, bridging climate and ecosystems science - in particular, soil science - in the context of natural (NERC) and agricultural (BBSRC) environments. We encourage research that, in the context of this priority, fosters transfer of tools, skills and knowledge between the NSRC and BBSRC research communities.

Examples of areas of research that are encouraged within this priority include those which seek to understand, predict, and offer strategies to mitigate or adapt to the impacts of environmental change on:

  • agricultural productivity; for example, through the development of crop varieties that are resilient to the predicted impacts of climate change in addition to other drivers of sustainable production (relating to the food security priority)
  • insect pollinators; including linkages between agricultural and natural ecosystem functions, and problems posed by population declines in key insect pollinator groups
  • flowering time, and the links between sustainable crop production and natural ecosystem function, including areas of resilience and sensitivity
  • soil biological processes and interactions, and those of the soil:water interface
  • pests and diseases of crops and livestock (including zoonoses)


  • Environmental change research where the majority of the work is not focused on understanding and/or manipulating biological systems (see BBSRC remit statement)
  • Environmental research that does not directly relate to impacts of, and responses to, changing environments
  • Underpinning basic bioscience that is not directly related to environmental change aims
  • Research that is focused on agricultural aims and impacts where environmental change is not a key driver
  • Soil science not related to agricultural systems

Outputs and impacts

Proposals should deliver research that has the potential to directly inform policy and practice, to ensure the research has the maximum possible impact on strategies to mitigate or adapt to environmental change. Proposals may also address skills shortages in areas of specialist research expertise, including plant physiology, plant breeding, plant pathology (especially entomology and mycology), soil science, horticulture, agroecology and environmental systems modelling.


The following are highly desirable:

  • Cross-disciplinarity of teams and approaches
  • Collaboration or partnership with industry/policymakers
  • Training in skills shortage areas

Data sharing

Requirements are covered by BBSRC's Data Sharing Policy (see related links).

Pathways to impact

The Pathways to Impact statement should explain ways in which the potential of the research to impact on strategies to mitigate or adapt to environmental change and to transfer knowledge and tools into policy and practice,will be explored and developed during the course of the project.

Ethical and any other issues

Please refer to the BBSRC Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research policy (see related links) and BBSRC's position on GM research in crops and other plants (see downloads).