Rob Robinson

Associate Director, Research

Rob is one of the senior scientists of the British Trust for Ornithology and provides strategic leadership and co-ordination of research across BTO as a whole. This includes improving the support our scientists have to undertake analyses effectively and ensuring best use is made of the valuable data collected by volunteers both for academic research and to inform policy. 

Interests & Responsibilities

Changes in bird populations and distributions are determined by demography, particularly the combination of survival and productivity. Rob's main interest lies in understanding how these processes operate, within an applied context, how the sum of individuals creates them and how they vary at different scales. Much of his recent work at BTO has focussed on combining data from the Ringing and Nest Record Schemes with data on population changes to understand the reasons for population declines. and census schemes to understand the reasons for population declines. This work involves applying novel statistical methods to make better use of  national data and contributes to BirdTrends, the annual assessment of Britain's bird populations. Rob started research with a particular focus on farmland birds, how they use their food supply and how changes in agriculture have, and will, afect them; effects of demographic parameters vary spatially, both geographically and with environmental variables such as habitat; Rob also has an interest in the role that diseases play in bird populations.

Other Information

Chair, European Union of Ringing Schemes (EURING)
Associate Editor, Ibis
Honorary Reader, University of East Anglia
Visiting Researcher, Swiss Ornithological Institute
Scientific Chair of BOU 2014 Conference and Co-Chair Euring 2017 Analytical Meeting
Member Nominated Trustee, BTO Assured Pension Scheme


BSc (Hons) Zoology, Edinburgh University, 1989-1993. PhD Ecology and conservation of farmland birds, University of East Anglia, 1993-1997.

Recent BTO Publications

Finch, T., Bell, J.R., Robinson, R.A. & Peach, W.J. 2022. Demography of Common Swifts Apus apus breeding in the UK associated with local weather but not aphid abundance. Ibis View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/ibi.13156)
Hanmer, H.J., Cunningham, A.A., John, S.K., Magregor, S.K., Robinson, R.A., Seilern-Moy, K., Siriwardena, G.M. & Lawson, B. 2022. Habitat-use influences severe disease-mediated population declines in two of the most common garden bird species in Great Britain. Scientific Reports 12 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-18880-8)
Hanmer, H.J., Boersch-Supan, P.H. & Robinson, R.A. 2022. Differential changes in life cycle-event phenology provide a window into regional population declines. Biology Letters View at journal website (DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2022.0186)
Lawson, B., Robinson, R.A., Briscoe, A., Cunningham, A.A., Fooks, A.R., Heaver, J.P., Hernández-Triana, L.M., John, S.K., Johnson, N., Johnston, C., Lean, F.Z.X., Macgregor, S.K., Masters, N., McCracken, F., McElhinney, L.M., Medlock, J.M., Pearce-Kelly, P., Seilern-Moy, K., Spiro, S., Vaux, A.G.C. & Folly, A.J. 2022. Combining host and vector data informs emergence and potential impact of an Usutu virus outbreak in UK wild birds. Scientific Reports 12 Link to publication View at journal website (DOI: /10.1038/s41598-022-13258-2)
Evans, L. C., Melero, Y., Schmucki, R., Boersch-Supan, P. H., Brotons, L., Fontaine, C., Jiguet, F., Kuussaari, M., Massimino, D., Robinson, R. A., Roy, D. B., Schweiger, O., Settele, J., Stefanescu, C., van Turnhout, C. A., & Oliver, T. H. 2022. Bioclimatic context of species' populations determines community stability.. Global Ecology and Biogeography Link to publication View at journal website (DOI:
Mancini, F., Boersch-Supan, P.H., Robinson, R.A., Harris, M. & Pocock, M.J.O. 2022. An introduction to model-based data integration for biodiversity assessments. Link to publication ISBN: 978-1-86107-639-7 30pp

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