Piero Visconti profile picture

Piero Visconti

Research Group Leader and Senior Research Scholar

Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation Research Group

Biodiversity and Natural Resources


Piero Visconti is the Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC) Research Group Leader at IIASA.

He holds a doctoral degree in Conservation Planning jointly awarded by James Cook University, Australia and Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. After his PhD Visconti held postdoctoral positions at the University of Rome, the Microsoft Research Cambridge Computational Ecology Group, and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). His research during this period focused on understanding species' responses to land use and climate change and projecting these responses under future global change scenarios. For this research, he developed analytical methods that integrate statistical models of distribution and abundance of species that use presence data and species' life-history traits, with expert-based information on species habitat preferences. While at Microsoft, he also developed methods to enable planning of conservation interventions under severe uncertainty, and methods to survey species in a cost-efficient way by borrowing sampling techniques from computer science.

Prior to joining IIASA, Visconti was a joint Research Fellow at University College London's Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (UCL-CBER) and the Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology (ZSL-IoZ), where he worked on normative scenarios for biodiversity and integrated spatial planning for biodiversity conservation, restoration, and food production.

At IIASA, BEC's as well as Visconti's own research span a broad set of topics within applied ecology and conservation. BEC research combines methods from systems analyses, global change biology, conservation biogeography, spatial planning for biodiversity conservation, and restoration, to answer scientific questions and provide policy support.

Alongside his research and supervision activities, Visconti engages at the science-policy interface, for instance, through his past role of coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Regional Assessment of status, trends, and future scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia.

Last update: 21 MAY 2021


Sykes, R.E., O'Neill, H.M.K., Juffe-Bignoli, D., Metcalfe, K., Stephenson, P.J., Struebig, M.J., Visconti, P., Burgess, N.D., Kingston, N., Davies, Z.G., & Smith, R.J. (2023). Developing a framework to improve global estimates of conservation area coverage. Oryx 1-10. 10.1017/S0030605323000625.

Sonter, L.J., Maron, M., Bull, J., Giljum, S., Luckeneder, S., Maus, V. , McDonald-Madden, E., Northey, S.A., Sánchez, L.E., Valenta, R., Visconti, P., Werner, T.T., & Watson, J. (2023). How to fuel an energy transition with ecologically responsible mining. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 120 (35) e2307006120. 10.1073/pnas.2307006120.

Kortz, A. , Moyes, F., Pivello, V.R., Pyšek, P., Dornelas, M., Visconti, P., & Magurran, A.E. (2023). Elevated compositional change in plant assemblages linked to invasion. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 290 (1998) 10.1098/rspb.2022.2450.

Jellesmark, S., Ausden, M., Blackburn, T.M., Hoffmann, M., McRae, L., Visconti, P., & Gregory, R.D. (2023). The effect of conservation interventions on the abundance of breeding waders within nature reserves in the United Kingdom. Ibis 165 (1) 69-81. 10.1111/ibi.13106.