Multi-scale habitats

 Dawn Balmer

The BTO has a long history of research on issues specific to particular habitats, such as farmland and woodland. We investigate causes of population change, habitat effects on abundance and demography, design and testing of management measures, interspecific interactions and the details of species’ ecologies. This work ranges from national-scale analyses of the Trust’s large-scale, long-term datasets to specific, intensive field studies and has been supported by government, private trusts, industry, research councils and BTO appeals. We employ traditional field approaches from the territory to the landscape scale (including bespoke volunteer surveys), technological solutions (such as radio-tracking and nest cameras) and state-of-the-art analytical techniques. Our collaborators include other NGOs and charities, several universities and overseas bodies working in similar fields. We publish our research in a range of fora, including the top ecological and bird journals (such as Journal of Applied Ecology and Ibis) and our research has contributed directly to national policy development.

In the future, we aim to continue working in these areas, but to expand our work in habitats such as urban areas and uplands. We will work to integrate other taxa, other countries and disciplines like socio-economics further into our research, forging new collaborations as necessary. We will also work to bridge the gap between intensive, territory-scale research and patterns across whole landscapes. We expect to continue to analyse the BTO’s datasets in innovative ways and to develop new field approaches to integrate new technology with classical survey, ringing and demographic recording techniques.

Our research priorities are:

  • To investigate fundamental ecological questions concerning interactions between habitats in mosaics at different scales and how they affect birds;
  • To work towards a better understanding of the ecological mechanisms underlying spatial and temporal patterns in bird abundance;
  • To build new inter-disciplinary collaborations, especially with social scientists, to add the human dimension to our bird research;
  • To conduct reactive and proactive research relevant to current and future changes in various landscapes, considering areas such as agricultural and energy policy, urbanization, afforestation and climate change mitigation.

For further information please contact Gavin Siriwardena

Recent research on Habitat

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.
Ringed Plover, photograph by Jill Pakenham

A tale of two plovers

BTO research sheds light on the differing fortunes of two small UK-breeding waders.