Ian Henderson

Senior Research Ecologist

Ian is part of Terrestrial Ecology team. Principal roles are in project development, project management, field ecology and data analysis.

Interests & Responsibilities

An experienced analyst and field ornithologist with diverse skills and interests in field and population ecology and bird monitoring. Research in the last 20 or so years has largely focused on farmland birds, but includes also forest management, population monitoring and issues relating to demography, predation and bird-habitat choice.

Farmland assignments have centered on large-scale government-backed projects (MAFF- ‘Set-aside’ (1996) and ‘Crops for Wintering Birds’ (1999); and two Defra-LINK projects: ‘Saffie’ (1999-2003): managing cereal crops for birds and ‘Farm4bio’ (2006-2011): managing un-cropped land). Ian also has direct experience of international corporate development (Unilever & Birds Eye Sustainable Agriculture Programmes) for constructing sustainable guidance standards for growers. Ian has experience in EU, INTERREG perspectives on sustainable farming and culural integration. There have been tangible contributions to UK lowland sustainable farming (15 publications) through a) An assessment of the Government's Public Services Agreement for reversing farmland bird declines by 2020 (see Vickery et al. 2004); 2) A Defra-commissioned reviewed of set-aside loss and birds (2010); 3) Assessments of Winter Bird Crops and Supplementary feeding as effective arable options for birds.

Field skills: Objective and ‘analytical’ approaches to working-practice, strong ID and survey skills and good with other taxa. Experienced in: Single species studies (e.g. Stone Curlew, Nightjar, Woodlark, Whinchat, Jackdaw, Yellowhammer & Goshawk); Applying monitoring andtracking technology (nest cameras, radio-tracking and GPS/geo-locators) for studies of productivity and bird movements; Studies abroad abroad (Kenya, Ghana, Delaware, EU).

Monitoring experience: Experienced in survey design and application having overseen several large-scale national surveys of Set-aside (1996), Winter Bird Crops (1999), Nightjars (2004), foraging Swallows (2004), Woodlarks (2006) and chats (2012-2013).

Processes: Interested in i) demographic constraints on species populations, ii) particular in species ecology and sustainable forest management practices iii) understanding bird movements between populations and landscapes.

Current research: Studies of the potential benefits of managed forests for broad species assemblages; Determinants of demographic change and habitat dependency in Whinchats; Improving the objective application of bird indicators; identifying causes of variation in breeding densities of forest birds, especially Nightjars, by assessing seasonal and inter seasonal movements (tracking), home range, carrying capacity and habitat use.

Other Information

Student co-supervision: Eight MSc projects and two Ph.D projects (one current). External links: the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Forestry Commission for England, The University of Lancaster (LEC), the MOD/Dstl. Duties: associate editor for Ornis Fennica.


BSc (Hons) Zoology, University of Newcastle (1982). PhD, Social and genetic composition of Rook & Jackdaw flocks, University of Leicester (1989).

Recent BTO Publications

Fay, F., Schaub, M., Border, J.A., Henderson, I.G., Fahl, G., Feulner, J., Horch, P., Müller, M., Rebstock, H., Shitikov, D., Tome, D., Vögeli, M. & Grüebler, M.U. 2020. Evidence for senescence in survival but not in reproduction in a short-lived passerine. Ecology and Evolution View at journal website (DOI: 10.1002/ece3.6281) 8pp
Burgess, M.D., Finch, T., Border, J.A., Castello, J., Conway, G., Ketcher, M., Lawrence, M., Orsman, C.J., Mateos, J., Proud, A., Westerberg, S., Wiffen, T. & Henderson, I.G. 2020. Weak migratory connectivity, loop migration and multiple non‐breeding site use in British breeding Whinchats Saxicola rubetra. Ibis View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12825)
Jiguet, F., Burgess, M., Thorup, K., Conway, G., Arroyo Matos, J.L., Barber, L., Black, J., Burton, N., Castelló, J., Clewley, G., Copete, J.L., Czajkowski, M.A., Dale, S., Davis, T., Dombrovski, V., Drew, M., Elts, J., Gilson, V., Grzegorczyk, E., Henderson, I., Holdsworth, M., Husbands, R., Lorrilliere, R., Marja, R., Minkevicius, S., Moussy, C., Olsson, P., Onrubia, A., Pérez, M., Piacentini, J., Piha, M., Pons, J.-M., Procházka, P., Raković, M., Robins, H., Seimola, T., Selstam, G., Skierczyński, M., Sondell, J., Thibault, J.-C., Tøttrup, A.P., Walker, J. & Hewson, C. 2019. Desert crossing strategies of migrant songbirds vary between and within species. Scientific Reports 9 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-56677-4) 12pp
Norevik, G., Åkesson, S., Artois, T., Beenaerts, N., Conway, G., Cresswell, B., Evens, R., Henderson, I., Jiguet, F. & Hedenström, A. 2019. Wind‐associated detours promote seasonal migratory connectivity in a flapping flying long‐distance avian migrant. Journal of Animal Ecology View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13112) 12pp
Siriwardena, G.M., Henderson, I.G., Noble, D.G., & Fuller, R.J. 2019. How can assemblage structure indices improve monitoring of change in bird communities using ongoing survey data?. Ecological Indicators 104 : 669-685 Link to publication View at journal website (DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.05.046) 17pp
Border, J.A., Atkinson, L.R., Henderson, I.G., Hartley, I.R. 2017. Nest monitoring does not affect nesting success of Whinchats Saxicola rubetra. IBIS View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12574)

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