Chris Perrins


Perrins was educated at Charterhouse School and Queen Mary College[1] where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology in 1957.[1] He completed his postgraduate study and research at the University of Oxford where he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1963 for research on brood size in tits supervised by David Lack.[2]

Research and career

Perrins research interests are in the population dynamics and breeding biology of birds, particularly tits (Paridae),[2][9] mute swans[10][11] and seabirds on Skomer and Skokholm.[7][12][13] He investigated animal lead poisoning of swans from lead shot.[12] He is renowned for his work on avian population ecology and, in particular, reproductive rates. He has made a number of important contributions to the long-term study of the great tit at Wytham Woods[14] — an area of mixed woodland established in 1947 by evolutionary biologist David Lack – one of the most famous studies in population ecology.[5]

He was the first to discover that avian clutch size – the number of eggs laid in a single nesting – in great tits has a remarkably high heritability and that the likelihood of the survival of young birds can be traced back to nutrition in the nest.[5] Perrins also demonstrated that females lay a clutch of an appropriate size for their ability to feed.[5][15] He supervised several successful DPhil students at Oxford including Matt Ridley[4] and Tim Birkhead.[3]

According to Scopus,[16] As of 2016 his most cited journal articles have been published in Ibis,[17][18] Nature,[19] Science[9] and the Journal of Animal Ecology.[20]


  • British Tits[21]
  • Encyclopedia of Birds[22]
  • The Mute Swan[23]
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Guide to Birds of the World: Christopher M. Perrins Hardline (1990) ISBN 978-0747202776
  • Bird Population Studies: Relevance to Conservation and Management: (Oxford Ornithology Series) by Christopher M. Perrins, G. J. Hirons and J. D. Lebreton (1996) ISBN 978-0198540823
  • The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-passerines David Snow, Christopher M. Perrins and Robert Gillmor (1998) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198501879
  • The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: by David Snow, Christopher M. Perrins and Robert Gillmor (1998) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198501886
  • The New Encyclopedia of Birds: Editor, (2003) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198525066
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of Birds and Bird Migration: Jonathan Elphick: Christopher M. Perrins (2004) ISBN 978-0785816676

Awards and honours

Perrins has received a number of awards for his research, including the Godman-Salvin Medal of the British Ornithologists' Union in 1988, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Medal in 1992. In 1993, he was appointed as the first Warden of the Swans in the Royal Household, playing an important role in the annual Swan Upping ceremony. This was a new office in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, created in 1993. Other awards and honours include:[7]


  1. Anon (1992). "Perrins, Prof. Christopher Miles". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.30593. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. Perrins, Christopher Miles (1963). Some factors influencing brood-size and populations in tits (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 44835614. EThOS
  3. Birkhead, Timothy Robert (1976). Breeding biology and survival of guillemots (Uria aalge). (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 44837387. EThOS .
  4. Ridley, Matthew White (1983). Mating system of the pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 52225811. EThOS
  5. Anon (1997). "Professor Christopher Perrins LVO FRS". London: Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:
    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. "Weekend birthdays", The Guardian, p. 52, 10 May 2014
  7. Perrins, Chris (2015). "Professor Chris Perrins LVO FRS". Oxford: University of Oxford. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015.
  8. Christopher Perrins, Professor of Zoology at Oxford University talks about Swan Upping on YouTube
  9. Charmantier, A.; McCleery, R. H.; Cole, L. R.; Perrins, C.; Kruuk, L. E. B.; Sheldon, B. C. (2008). "Adaptive Phenotypic Plasticity in Response to Climate Change in a Wild Bird Population". Science. 320 (5877): 800–803. doi:10.1126/science.1157174. PMID 18467590.
  10. Charmantier, A.; Perrins, C.; McCleery, R. H.; Sheldon, B. C. (2006). "Quantitative genetics of age at reproduction in wild swans: Support for antagonistic pleiotropy models of senescence". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (17): 6587–6592. doi:10.1073/pnas.0511123103. PMC 1458927. PMID 16618935.
  11. Mccleery, R. H.; Perrins, C. M.; Wheeler, D.; Groves, S. (2006). "The effect of breeding status on the timing of moult in Mute Swans Cygnus olor". Ibis. 149 (1): 86–90. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00596.x.
  12. Perrins, Chris (2016). "Oxford Alumni: Professor Chris Perrins". Oxford: University of Oxford. Archived from the original on 21 July 2016.
  13. Ropert-Coudert, Yan; Guilford, Tim; Freeman, Robin; Boyle, Dave; Dean, Ben; Kirk, Holly; Phillips, Richard; Perrins, Chris (2011). "A Dispersive Migration in the Atlantic Puffin and Its Implications for Migratory Navigation". PLOS ONE. 6 (7): e21336. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021336. PMC 3140476. PMID 21799734.
  14. Savill, Peter; Perrins, Christopher; Kirby, Keith; Fisher, Nigel (2011). Wytham Woods: Oxford's Ecological Laboratory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 282. doi:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199605187.001.0001. ISBN 9780199605187. Archived from the original on 23 August 2016.
  15. Dean, B.; Freeman, R.; Kirk, H.; Leonard, K.; Phillips, R. A.; Perrins, C. M.; Guilford, T. (2012). "Behavioural mapping of a pelagic seabird: combining multiple sensors and a hidden Markov model reveals the distribution of at-sea behaviour". Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 10 (78): 20120570–20120570. doi:10.1098/rsif.2012.0570. PMC 3565783. PMID 23034356.
  16. Chris Perrins's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  17. Perrins, C. M. (2008). "Tits and their caterpillar food supply". Ibis. 133: 49–54. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1991.tb07668.x.
  18. Perrins, C. M. (2008). "Eggs, egg formation and the timing of breeding". Ibis. 138 (1): 2–15. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1996.tb04308.x.
  19. Pettifor, R. A.; Perrins, C. M.; McCleery, R. H. (1988). "Individual optimization of clutch size in great tits". Nature. 336 (6195): 160–162. doi:10.1038/336160a0.
  20. Noordwijk, A.J. Van; McCleery, R.H.; Perrins, C.M. (1995). "Selection for the Timing of Great Tit Breeding in Relation to Caterpillar Growth and Temperature". The Journal of Animal Ecology. 64 (4): 451. doi:10.2307/5648.
  21. British Tits (1979) Collins New Naturalist Series ISBN 978-0002195379
  22. Encyclopedia of Birds (1985) Christopher M. Perrins and A.L.A. Middleton, Facts on File Inc ISBN 978-0816011506
  23. The Mute Swan (1986) Helm Field Guides, Birkhead M. Perrins C. ISBN 978-0709932598
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