Ian Henderson

Ian Henderson


Senior Research Ecologist, Terrestrial Ecology


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


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

Research 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). I also have direct experience of international corporate development (Unilever & Birds Eye Sustainable Agriculture Programmes) for constructing sustainable guidance standards for growers. I have 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 and tracking 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 details

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.

Selected Publications

Sharps, K., Henderson, I., Conway, G., Armour-Chelue, N. & Doman, P.M. In press. Home-range size and habitat use of European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus nesting in a complex plantation-forest landscape. Ibis DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12251.
Pocock, M. J. O., Newson, S. E., Henderson, I. G., Peyton, J., Sutherland, W. J., Noble, D. G., Ball, S. G., Beckmann, B. C., Biggs, J., Brereton, T., Bullock, D. J., Buckland, S. T., Edwards, M., Eaton, M. A., Harvey, M. C., Hill, M. O., Horlock, M., Hubble, D. S., Julian, A. M., Mackey, E. C., Mann, D. J., Marshall, M. J., Medlock, J. M., O'Mahony, E. M., Pacheco, M., Porter, K., Prentice, S., Procter, D. A., Roy, H. E., Southway, S. E., Shortall, C. R., Stewart, A. J. A., Wembridge, D. E., Wright, M. A., Roy, D. B. 2015. Developing and enhancing biodiversity monitoring programmes: a collaborative assessment of priorities. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12423.

Henderson, I., Calladine, J., Massimino, D., Taylor, J.A. & Gillings, S. 2014. Evidence for contrasting causes of population change in two closely related, sympatric breeding species the Whinchat Saxicola rubetra and Stonechat Saxicola torquata in Britain. Bird Study 61: 553–565.

Henderson, I.G., Holland, J.M., Storkey, J., Lutman, P., Orson, J & Simper, J. 2012. Effects of the proportion and spatial arrangement of un-cropped land on breeding bird abundance in arable rotations. Journal of Applied Ecology 49: 883–891.

Gillings, S., Henderson, I.G., Morris, AJ., & Vickery, J.A. 2010.  Assessing the implications of the loss of set-aside for farmland birds. Ibis, 152, 713–723.

Henderson, I.G., Ravenscroft, N., Smith, G. & Hollway, S. 2009. Effects of crop diversification and low pesticide inputs on bird populations on arable land. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 129: 149-156.

Conway, G., Wotton. S., Henderson., I., Eaton, M., Drewitt, A., & Spencer., J. 2009. The status of breeding Woodlarks Lullula arborea in Britain in 2006. Bird Study56: 310 – 325.

Conway, G., Wotton, S., Henderson, I., Langston, R., Drewitt, A. & Currie, F. 2007. The status and distribution of breeding European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus in the UK in 2004. Bird Study 54: 98-111.

Henderson, I., Holt, C. & Vickery, J. 2007. National and regional patterns of habitat association with foraging Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in the UK. Bird Study 54: 371–377.

Vickery, J.A., Bradbury, R.B., Henderson, I.G., Eaton, M.A. & Grice, P.V. 2004. The role of agri-environment schemes and farm management practices in reversing the decline of farmland birds in England. Biological Conservation 119: 19–39.

Henderson, I.G, Fuller, R.F., Conway, G.J. & Gough, S.J. 2004. Evidence for declines in populations of grassland associated birds in marginal upland areas of Britain. Bird Study 51: 12–19.

Henderson, I.G., Critchley, N.R, Copper, J. & Fowbert, J.A. 2001. Breeding season response of Skylarks Alauda arvensis to vegetation structure in set-aside (fallow arable land). Ibis 143: 317-321.

Henderson, I.G., Cooper, J., Fuller, R.J. & Vickery, J.A. 2000. The summer abundance and distribution of birds on set-aside and neighbouring crops on arable farms in England. Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 335-347.

Contact details

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