I have had the good fortune to be a professional ecologist throughout my career. Currently based in Aberdeen, at the James Hutton Institute (formerly the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute), I began in Cambridge, when in 1976 I joined the study of red deer on the Isle of Rum, Scotland. This study of natural selection in the wild provided fundamental knowledge to underpin conservation and management. Also, I had the privilege to join research on a number of species of African antelope, the demise of rhinos in Zambia, and lion predation in Namibia. These studies facilitated my move to the Zoological Society of London, in 1991, to establish an ecology group, which studied species from the Tropics to the Arctic, deepening the science base for in situ conservation. Since moving to Scotland in 1997, I have worked at ecosystem scales, Co-chaired the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, and on approaches to the interdisciplinary valuation of nature.