Kate Plummer

Kate Plummer


Research Ecologist & Research Fellow, Terrestrial Ecology


My principle role is to conduct research into avian responses to environmental change, particularly urbanisation. I use BTO’s large-scale citizen science datasets and design novel field experiments and surveys to address important questions about urban wildlife.

I am currently undertaking a one-year fellowship, investigating the role of garden bird feeding in shaping British bird communities.


2011 PhD Behavioural Ecology, University of Exeter
2007 MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology, University of Exeter
2006 BSc Biology, University of Nottingham

Research Interests/Responsibilities

My research interests lie in the relationships between people and wildlife.  I study how species and communities respond to human-induced environmental change, as well as how people might benefit from the wildlife they experience in urban areas.  I do this by combining aspects of avian, urban and behavioural ecology.  I work closely with the Garden BirdWatch (GBW) team to develop and address research questions concerning the wildlife in our gardens. 

Key areas of interest:

  • Understanding how gardens and their resources influence wild bird populations
  • The implications of garden bird feeding
  • Investigating how birds can affect human well-being
  • The effects of urbanisation on bird species distributions and trends
  • The consequences of street lighting on British moths communities

Other Information

I am based at the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, where I have an honorary position as a Visiting Researcher.

Selected publications

Find links to all my publications on Google Scholar

Plummer, K.E., Hale, J.D, O’Callaghan, M.J., Sadler, J.P., Siriwardena, G.M. (2016). Investigating the impact of street lighting changes on garden moth communities. Journal of Urban Ecology 1-10.

Clewley, G.D., Plummer, K.E., Robinson, R.A., Simm, C.H. & Toms, M.P. (2015). The effect of artificial lighting on the arrival time of birds using garden feeding stations in winter: A missed opportunity? Urban Ecosystems, 1-12.

Plummer, K. E., Siriwardena, G. M., Conway, G. J., Risely, K. and Toms, M. P. (2015) Is supplementary feeding in gardens a driver of evolutionary change in a migratory bird species?. Global Change Biology 21 4353-4363.

Maclean, I.M.D., Inger, R., Benson, D., Booth, C.G., Embling, C.B., Grecian, W.J., Heymans, J.J., Plummer, K.E., Shackshaft, M., Sparling, C., Wilson, B., Wright, L.J., Bradbury, G., Christen, N., Godley, B.J., Jackson, A., McCluskie, A., Nichols-Lee, R. & Bearhop, S. (2014) Resolving issues with environmental impact assessment of marine renewable energy installations. Frontiers in Marine Science 1 75.

Savidge, G., Ainsworth, D., Bearhop, S., Christen, N., Elsaesser, B., Fortune, F., Inger, R., Kennedy, R., McRobert, A., Plummer, K.E., Pritchard, D.W., Sparling, C.E. & Whittaker, T.J.T. (2014) Strangford Lough and the SeaGen Tidal Turbine. Marine Renewable Energy Technology and Environmental Interactions (eds M.A. Shields & A.I.L. Payne), pp. 153-172. Springer Netherlands.

Plummer, K.E., Bearhop, S., Leech, D.I., Chamberlain, D.E. & Blount, J.D. (2013)  Winter food provisioning reduces future breeding performance in a wild bird. Scientific Reports 2002.

Plummer, K.E., Bearhop, S., Leech, D.I., Chamberlain, D.E. & Blount, J.D. (2013) Fat provisioning in winter impairs egg production during the following spring: a landscape-scale study of blue tits. Journal of Animal Ecology 82 673-682.

Mainwaring, M., Hartley, I., Bearhop, S., Brulez, K., du Feu, C., Murphy, G., Plummer, K.E., Webber, S., Reynolds, J.S. & Deeming, C.D.  (2012). Latitudinal variation in blue tit and great tit nest characteristics indicates environmental adjustment.  Journal of Biogeography39 1669-1677.

Contact details 

Email: kate.plummer [at] bto.org
Telephone: 01326 370400
Fax: 01326 371859
Postal address: Daphne du Maurier Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK.