Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson


Research Ecologist


I am responsible for developing and undertaking research projects in Scotland, and am leading research on several projects involving raptors and upland birds.


BSc (Hons) Ecological Science, University of Edinburgh in Ecological Science (1992-1996).
PhD University of Sheffield (2001). Mating system and parental care of Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus.

Research Interests/Responsibilities

I joined BTO Scotland at the end of 2013. Since then, I have assumed responsibility for carrying out much of BTO’s research work on raptors, as well as more general work on Scottish bird populations and ecological interactions. Among the ongoing projects I am involved with are:

  • Sixth UK Peregrine Survey: I worked closely with colleagues and volunteer surveyors, particularly members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, to plan the survey and organise survey coverage. I will analyse and report on the results from this project later this year.
  • Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme: This scheme is a collaboration between eight partners, and aims to provide objective and high quality information about predatory bird populations in Scotland. I support the Scheme Coordinator in managing SRMS datasets, and am responsible for undertaking several tasks to help with collecting, collating, analysing and reporting on these data.
  • Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group: I am working on a project aimed at providing information to policy-makers and wind energy developers about Scottish bird populations. As well as deriving regional population estimates for relevant species, we are also summarising existing evidence for risks posed to these populations by wind energy development.
  • Understanding Predation: This collaborative project is being sponsored by Scottish National Heritage and aims to increase understanding among upland stakeholders, not only of the ways in which predation processes can influence wild birds, but also of the varied and wide-ranging perspectives on management of predation held by other stakeholders.

Other Information

Trainee bird ringer.
Lecturing in University College Cork since 2003, and in University of Stirling since 2014.

Selected publications

Coote, L., Dietzsch, A.C., Wilson, M.W., Graham, C.T., Fuller, L., Walsh, A.T., Irwin, S., Kelly, D.L., Mitchell, F.J.G., Kelly, T.C. and O'Halloran, J. 2013. Testing indicators of biodiversity for plantation forests. Ecol. Indicators 32: 107-115.

Wilson, M. W., O’Donoghue, B., O’Mahony, B., Cullen, C., O’Donoghue, T., Oliver, G., Ryan, B., Troake, P., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C. Rotella, J. J. & O’Halloran, J. 2012. Mismatches between breeding success and habitat preferences: A study of Hen Harriers breeding in forested landscapes. Ibis 154: 578-589.

Wilson, M. W., Gittings, T., Pithon, J., Kelly, T. C., Irwin, S. & O’Halloran, J. 2012. Bird diversity of afforestation habitats in Ireland: current trends and likely impacts. Biology and Environment 112B: 55-68.

Copland, A. S., O. Crowe, Wilson, M. W. & O’Halloran, J. 2012. Habitat associations of Eurasian Skylarks Alauda arvensis breeding on Irish farmland and implications for agri-environment planning. Bird Study 59: 155-165.

Sweeney, O., Kelly, T. C., Irwin, S., Wilson, M. W. and O’Halloran, J. 2012. Chapter 9. Woodlands, forestry and scrub, in Bird Habitats in Ireland (John O’Halloran and Richard Nairn, ed.), Collins Press, Cork.

Irwin, S., Wilson, M. W., Kelly, T. C., O’Mahony, B., Oliver, G., Troake, P., Ryan, B., Cullen, C., O’Donoghue, B. & O’Halloran, J. 2011. The breeding biology of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Ireland over a five year period. Irish Birds 9: 165-172.

Sweeney, O. F. Mc.D., Wilson, M.W., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C., Gittings, T. & O’Halloran, J. 2011. Breeding birds of native woodlands and plantation forests in Ireland. Irish Birds 9: 181-196.

Wilson, M. W., Irwin, S., O'Donoghue, B., Kelly, T. & O'Halloran, J. 2010. The use of forested landscapes by Hen Harriers in Ireland. COFORD Connects Environment No. 10. Dublin: COFORD.

Wilson, M.W., Gittings, T., Kelly, T.C. & O'Halloran, J. 2010. The importance of non-crop vegetation for bird diversity in Sitka spruce plantations in Ireland. Bird Study 57: 116-120

Sweeney, O. F. M., Martin, R. D., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C., O'Halloran, J., Wilson, M. W. & McEvoy, P. M. 2010. A lack of large-diameter logs and snags characterises dead wood patterns in Irish forests. For. Ecol. and Man. 259: 2056-2064.

Sweeney, O. F. M., Wilson, M. W., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C. & O'Halloran, J. 2010. Are bird density, species richness and community structure similar between native woodlands and non-native plantations in an area with a generalist bird fauna? Biodivers. Conserv. 19: 2329-2342.

Sweeney, O. F. M., Wilson, M. W., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C. & O'Halloran, J. 2010. Breeding bird communities of second rotation plantations at different stages of the forest cycle. Bird Study 57: 301-314.

Sweeney, O. F. M., Wilson, M. W., Irwin, S., Kelly, T. C. & O'Halloran, J. 2010. The influence of a native tree species mix component on bird communities in non-native coniferous plantations in Ireland. Bird Study 57: 483-494.

Wilson, M. W., Irwin, S., Norriss, D. W., Newton, S. F., Collins, K., Kelly, T. C. & O'Halloran, J. 2009. The importance of pre-thicket conifer plantations for nesting Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in Ireland.  Ibis 151: 332-343.

Smith, G. F., Gittings, T., Wilson, M., French, L., Oxbrough, A., O'Donoghue, S., O'Halloran, J., Kelly, D. L., Mitchell, F. J. G., Kelly, T., Iremonger, S., McKee, A. M. & Giller, P. 2008. Identifying practical indicators of biodiversity for stand-level management of plantation forests. Biodivers. Conserv. 17: 991-1015.

Wilson, M. W., Pithon, J., Gittings, T., Kelly, T. C., Giller, P. & O'Halloran, J. 2006. The effects of growth stage and tree species composition on bird assemblages of Irish plantation forests. Bird Study 53: 225-236.

Houghton, J. D. R., Doyle, T. K., Wilson, M. W., Davenport, J. & Hays, G. C. 2006. Jellyfish aggregations and leatherback turtle foraging patterns in a temperate coastal environment. Ecology  87: 1967-1972.

Smith, G. F., Gittings, T., Wilson, M. W., Oxbrough, A., Iremonger, S., O'Halloran, J., Kelly, D. L., O'Sullivan, A., O'Donoghue, S., McKee, A.-M., Neville, P., Mitchell, F. J. G., Pithon, J., Giller, P., O'Donnell, V. & Kelly, T. 2006. Biodiversity assessment of afforestation sites. COFORD and EPA, Dublin.

Contact details 

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