John Krebs, Baron Krebs

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The Lord Krebs
John Krebs.jpg
John Krebs as a Hamilton lecturer at the 14th Behavioral Ecology Congress in Lund, Sweden (August 2012)
Born (1945-04-11) 11 April 1945 (age 77)[1]
Fields Ornithology
Institutions University of Oxford
Food Standards Agency
University of British Columbia
University College of North Wales
Alma mater Pembroke College, Oxford
Thesis A study of territorial behaviour in the Great tit Parus major L. (1970)
Influences Nikolaas Tinbergen
Konrad Lorenz[2]
Notable awards Knight Bachelor (1999)
Frink Medal (1996)
Fellow of the Royal Society (1984)
DPhil (1970)[3]
Spouse Sarah Phibbs
Children Emma Helen; Georgina Claire

John Richard Krebs, Baron Krebs, FRS (born 11 April 1945, Sheffield, England) is a renowned English zoologist researching in the field of behavioural ecology of birds. He was the Principal of Jesus College, Oxford from 2007 until 2015.[4][5] Lord Krebs is currently President of the British Science Association.

Life and career

The son of Hans Adolf Krebs, the German biochemist who described the uptake and release of energy in cells (the Krebs cycle), John Krebs was educated at the City of Oxford High School, and Pembroke College, Oxford where he obtained a BA degree in 1966, upgraded to an MA degree in 1970, and received a DPhil degree in 1970.[1][3] He then held posts at the University of British Columbia and the University College of North Wales, before returning to Oxford as a University Lecturer in Zoology, with a fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford, then Pembroke.[6] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1984.[1] and since 1988 has held a Royal Society Research Professorship in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, where he was based at Pembroke College until his appointment to the position of Principal of Jesus College in 2005. Krebs was knighted in 1999[7] and was the first Chairman of the British Food Standards Agency (2000–2005).

Krebs's career has been both productive and influential.[8] His speciality is ornithology. His publications include more than 130 refereed papers, 5 books, and 130 book chapters, reviews, or popular pieces. They have introduced new methods to the science of ornithology, including the use of optimality models to predict foraging behaviour, and, more recently, techniques from neurobiology and experimental psychology to assess the mental capacities of birds and to relate these to particular regions of the brain.

During his chairmanship of the Food Standards Agency, Krebs criticised the organic food movement, saying that people buying such food were "not getting value for money, in my opinion and in the opinion of the Food Standards Agency, if they think they're buying food with extra nutritional quality or extra safety. We don't have the evidence to support those claims."[9]

Having led the Randomised Badger Culling Trials, Krebs became one of the UK's leading experts on bovine tuberculosis. The findings of the RBCT led him to oppose further badger culling in 2012 and he contributed to a paper on the subject written by centre-right think tank The Bow Group.[10]

Krebs was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2006–2007 and chaired the Working Party on Public Health,[11] 2006–07. He took up the chairmanship of the National Network of Science Learning Centres[12] in 2007.[13]

On 15 February 2007, the House of Lords Appointments Commission announced that he was to become a non-party political (cross-bench) life peer.[14] The peerage was gazetted on 28 March 2007 as Baron Krebs, of Wytham in the County of Oxfordshire.


In 2005 he gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Truth About Food.

Notable publications


  • Stephens, D. W. & Krebs, J. R. (1986) Foraging Theory. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08442-4
  • Kamil, Alan C., John R. Krebs and H. Ronald Pulliam. (1987) Foraging Behavior, Plenum Press, New York and London.
  • Krebs, J. R. & Davies, N.B. (1993) An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, 4th ed. Oxford: Blackwell ISBN 0-632-03546-3
  • Krebs, J. R. & Davies, N.B., eds. (1997) Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach, 4th ed. Oxford: Blackwell. (1st ed. 1978.) ISBN 0-86542-731-3
  • Dawkins, R. & Krebs, J. R. (1978). "Animal signals: information or manipulation?", Behavioural Ecology: an evolutionary approach 1st ed. (Krebs, J. R. & Davies, N.B., eds) Blackwell: Oxford, pp 282–309.
  • Krebs, J. R. and Dawkins, R. (1984). "Animal signals: mind-reading and manipulation", Behavioural Ecology: an evolutionary approach, 2nd ed (Krebs, J. R. & Davies, N.B., eds), Sinauer: pp 380–402.

Journal articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "KREBS, Baron". Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(subscription required)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "BBC Radio 4 – The Life Scientific, Lord John Krebs".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Krebs, John (1970). A study of territorial behaviour in the Great tit Parus major L. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Elliott Coues Award, 1999: Sir John R. Krebs", Jesus College Record, 2005.
  6. Clarke, Peter "Editorial", The Jesus College Record (2004), Jesus College, Oxford, 4–5.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 55610. p. 9844. 14 September 1999.
  8. ISI Highly Cited Researcher (within top 0.5% of all scientists) (2002)
  9. BBC News, Organic food 'no healthier' . Friday, 1 September 2000
  10. The Bow Group – Common Sense and Bovine TB
  11. Public Health Nuffield Council on Bioethics' official website
  12. National Network of Science Learning Centres, UK.
  13. Principal, Jesus College, Oxford, UK.
  14. House of Lords Appointments Commission, New non-party-political peers, 15 February 2007.