Gavin Siriwardena

Head & Principal Ecologist

Gavin leads the BTO’s Terrestrial Ecology team, which currently comprises up to 15 analytical and field research staff, conducting and supervising pure and applied research on terrestrial bird ecology.

Interests & Responsibilities

Terrestrial bird ecology at a range of spatial scales, from territories to landscapes, via field experiments and analyses of large-scale, long-term datasets. Research at the BTO has considered migration ecology, cause of decline in woodland birds and methods of population trend analysis, but has focused primarily on farmland birds, contributing directly to government policy on the environment.

A major three-year project on the demography of farmland birds (1996-1999), involving detailed analyses of extensive data sets held by the BTO and other organizations, helped to identify causes of decline. Subsequent large-scale projects have tested the hypotheses identified using landscape-scale field experiments and have also considered the likely efficacy of management solutions (2001-2007).

More recently, research has focused on testing the agri-environment solutions to farmland bird conservation problems and on measuring the effects of current issues in farmland such as the disappearance of set-aside. A parallel research direction is considering bird-habitat modelling, considering both habitat types per se and habitat heterogeneity.

Planned future research directions include further work on heterogeneity and habitat interactions, the ecology of predation and the design and testing of agri-environment solutions to the farmland bird conservation problems that still remain.

Other Information

Member of the Editorial Board of Bird Study. Member of the British Ornithologists’ Union’s council.


BA Natural Sciences (Zoology), University of Cambridge 1990 PhD Aspects of Vocal Communication in the Carrion Crow, University of Leicester 1995

Recent BTO Publications

Pirzio-Biroli, A., Crowley, S.L., Siriwardena, G.M., Plummer, K.E., Schroeder, J. & White, R.L. 2024. Not in the countryside please! Investigating UK residents’ perceptions of an introduced species, the ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri). NeoBiota 93 : 1-24 View at journal website (DOI: 10.3897/neobiota.93.110122)
Cooper, J.E.J., Plummer, K.E., Middlebrook, I. & Siriwardena, G.M. 2024. Using butterfly survey data to model habitat associations in urban developments. Journal of Applied Ecology View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.14583)
Boetzl, F.A., Sponsler, D., Albrecht, M., Batáry, P., Birkhofer, K., Knapp, M., Krauss, J., Maas, B., Martin, E.A., Sirami, C., Sutter, L., Bertrand, C., Bosem Baillod, A., Bota, G., Bretagnolle, V., Brotons, L., Frank, T., Fusser, M., Giralt, D., González, E., Hof, A.R., Luka, H., Marrec, R., Nash, M.A., Ng, K., Plantegenest, M., Poulin, B., Siriwardena, G.M., Tscharntke, T., Tschumi, M., Vialatte, A., Van Vooren, L., Zubair-Anjum, M., Entling, M.H., Steffan-Dewenter, I. & Schirmel, J. 2024. Distance functions of carabids in crop fields depend on functional traits, crop type and adjacent habitat: a synthesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 291 View at journal website (DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.c.6984205) 10pp
Plummer, K.E., Dadam, D., Brereton, T., Dennis, E.B., Massimino, D., Risely, K., Siriwardena, G.M. & Toms, M.P. 2023. Trends in butterfly populations in UK gardens - new evidence from citizen science monitoring. Insect Conservation and Diversity Link to publication View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/icad.12645)
Barton, M.G., Henderson, I., Border, J.A. & Siriwardena, G.M. 2023. A review of the impacts of air pollution on terrestrial birds. Science of The Total Environment 873 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162136)
Cooper, J.E.J., Plummer, K.E. & Siriwardena, G.M. 2023. Using species-habitat models to predict bird counts from urban development plans. Landscape and Urban Planning 230 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104629)

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