Latest Research

Linnet. By John Harding.

Spare or share to benefit biodiversity?

Agriculture is necessary to meet the food demands of an increasing human population, but it is also a leading threat to biodiversity, both because natural habitats are destroyed when land is converted to agricultural use and because the intensive management of existing agricultural land has negative consequences for many species. For this reason, scientists are studying strategies to mitigate the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity.
Knot flock by Dawn Balmer

Waders wane while geese gain

A major new study led by BTO, working with the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) partners, JNCC, RSPB and in association with WWT, provides detailed information on the importance of Great Britain for waterbirds each winter.
Corn Bunting by Mark R Taylor

Land sparing and bird conservation

As demand for food increases, a crucial question in conservation is how to limit the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity. ‘Land sparing’ has been proposed as a strategy to address this problem, with high-yield agriculture minimising the area of farmland so that other land can be spared for conservation. Research – mostly from tropical regions – suggests that most species would achieve larger populations under a land-sparing strategy than under a strategy in which lower-yielding wildlife-friendly farmland delivers food production over a larger total area.

Tagged Cuckoo, photograph by Chris Hewson

Tracking a research revolution

Newly-published work by BTO has reviewed the long-term patterns in the use of tracking devices on individual birds, and how the effects of the use of such devices are reported. This work highlights the continuing need for more systematic documentation of potential effects in peer-reviewed publications, to support more rigorous science and to further improve bird welfare.
Bird Atlas 2007-11 cover

Open access atlases

Since fieldwork started in early 1968, bird atlases have been a periodic feature of the bird surveying landscape in Britain and Ireland. They have provided countless hours of enjoyment for their volunteer participants and yielded data crucial for conservation and research activities. BTO and our collaborators have been working with these data for many decades, but now BTO is taking the bold step of making the full archive of distribution data freely available for anyone to use, as described in a new ‘data paper’ published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.