Dave Leech


Senior Research Ecologist - Demographic Monitory Projects


I am responsible for managing the Nest Record Scheme, the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme, and the Constant Effort Scheme and Retrapping Adults for Survival ringing projects.


BSc Biological Sciences, Oxford University
PhD Avian mating systems, Lancaster University

Research Interests/Responsibilities

  • Responsible for overseeing the four BTO volunteer demographic monitoring schemes: Nest Record Scheme (NRS), Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (BOMP), Constant Effort Site (CES) ringing scheme and the Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) ringing scheme.
  • NRS and BOMP focus on the collection of productivity data at the level of the individual breeding attempt, while RAS collects survival data on species poorly covered by more general ringing. CES collects information on survival and per-season productivity. All these schemes feed demographic data into the BTO’s Integrated Population Monitoring programme.
  • Involved in development of novel monitoring schemes to collect avian productivity data, e.g. Nest Box Challenge (NBC).
  • Responsible for managing the Nest Records Organiser and the CES/RAS Organiser.
  • Involved in analysis of avian productivity data and author on over 30 refereed scientific papers, reports and reviews. Specific research interests include the effect of weather and climate change on breeding success and the role of nest predation in determining reproductive success.
  • Nest recorder, with experience of monitoring large nest box populations and finding nests of open-nesting species, and licensed bid ringer, currently holding a C Permit

Other information

Active nest recorder, responsible for Nunnery RG submissions
Active bird ringer (C permit)
Council member of Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society
Norfolk Mammal Recorder

Selected Publications

McLean N., Lawson, C.R., Leech, D.I. & van de Pol, M. 2016. Predicting when climate-driven phenotypic change affects population dynamics. Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12599.

Newson, S.E., Johnston, A., Parrott, D. & Leech, D.I. 2011. Evaluating the population-level impact of an invasive species, Ring-necked Parakeet Psittacula krameri, on native avifauna. Ibis 153 (3): 509-516.

Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Renwick, A.R., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Conway, G.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. 2010. Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2010. BTO Research Report No. 565. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Douglas, D.J.T., Newson, S.E., Leech, D.I., Noble, D.G. & Robinson, R.A. 2010. Population decline of Cuckoos in relation to host abundance and timing of breeding. Oikos 119 (11): 1834-1840

Newson, S.E., Leech, D.I., Hewson, C.M., Crick, H.Q.P. & Grice, P.V. 2010. Potential impact of grey squirrels Sciurus carolinensis on woodland bird populations in England. J. Ornithol. 151 (1): 211-218.

Thackeray, S.J., Sparks, T.H., Frederiksen, M., Burthe, S., Bacon, P.J., Bell, J.R., Botham, M.S., Brereton, T. M., Bright, P.W., Carvalho, L., Clutton-Brock, T., Dawson, A., Edwards, M., Elliott, J.M., Harrington, R., Johns, D., Jones, D., Jones, I.D., Jones, J.T., Leech, D.I., Roy, D.B., Scott, W.A., Smith, M., Smithers, R.J., Winfield, I.J. & Wanless, S. 2010. Trophic level asynchrony in rates of phenological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Global Change Biology 16 (12): 3304-3313

Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Grantham, M.J., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. 2009. Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2008. BTO Research Report No. 516. BTO, Thetford.

Evans, K.L., Leech, D.I., Crick, H.Q.P., Greenwood, J.J.D. & Gaston, KJ. 2009. Latitudinal and seasonal patterns in clutch size of some single-brooded British birds. Bird Study 56: 75-85.

Leech, D.I., Shawyer, C.R., Barimore, C.J. & Crick, H.Q.P. 2009. The Barn Owl Monitoring Programme: establishing a protocol to assess temporal and spatial variation in productivity at a national scale. Ardea 97 (4):  421-428.

Chamberlain, D.E., Cannon, A.R., Toms, M.P., Leech, D.I., Hatchwell, B.J. & Gaston, K.J. 2008. Avian productivity in urban landscapes: a review and meta-analysis. Ibis 151: 1-18.

Newson, S.E., Mitchell, P.I., Parsons, M., O’Brien, S.H., Austin, G.E., Benn, S., Black, J., Blackburn, J., Brodie, B., Humphreys, E., Leech, D., Prior, M. & Webster, M. 2008. Population decline of Leach’s Storm-petrel Oceanodroma Leucorhoa within the largest colony in Britain and Ireland. Seabird 21: 77-84.

Sharpe, F., Clark, J. & Leech, D. 2008. Does variation in demographic parameters account for regional variation in Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus population declines across Great Britain? Bird Study 55: 247-256.

Leech, D.I. 2007. The BTO’s Nest Record Scheme – the value of counting your eggs before they hatch. British Wildlife 18: 229-234.

Leech, D.I. & Crick, H.Q.P. 2007. Influence of climate change on the abundance, distribution and phenology of woodland bird species in temperate regions. Ibis 149 (Suppl s2): 128-145.

Leech, D.I., Rowe, L.V. & Hartley, I.R. 2006. Experimental evidence for adjustment of parental investment in relation to brood sex ratio in the blue tit. Animal Behaviour 72: 1301-1307.

Noble, D., Carter, P., Harris, S., Leech, D., Poulton, S. & Shearer, G. 2005. Winter mammal monitoring – A pilot study. BTO Research Report 410.

Robinson, R.A., Learmonth, J.A., Hutson, A.M., Macleod, C.D., Sparks, T.H., Leech, D.I., Pierce, G.J., Rehfisch, M.M. & Crick, H.Q.P. 2005. Climate Change and Migratory Species. BTO Research Report 414.

Crick, H.Q.P., Baillie, S.R. & Leech, D. I. 2003. The UK Nest Record Scheme: It’s value for science and conservation. Bird Study 50: 254-270.

Leech, D. I., Rehfisch, M.M. & Atkinson, P.W. 2002. A Guide to Waterbird Alerts. BTO Research Report 281.

Leech, D.I., Hartley, I.R., Stewart, I.R.K., Griffith, S.G. & Burke, T. 2001. No effect of parental quality or extra-pair paternity on brood sex ratio in the blue tit Parus caeruleus. Behavioural Ecology 12: 674-680.

Contact details

Email: dave.leech [at] bto.org
Telephone: 01842 750050
Fax: 01842 750030
Postal address: British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK.