Niall Burton

Niall Burton

Job Description

Head of Wetland & Marine Research & Principal Ecologist


Niall manages a team of seven staff undertaking pure and applied research on the UK’s waterbirds and seabirds.


BSc in Physical Geography, Reading University, 1986-1989 MSc in Ecology, University of Durham, 1989-1990 PhD on the roosting behaviour of waders, University of Durham, 1991-1995

Interests & Responsibilities

As Head of the Wetland and Marine Team, Niall oversees BTO’s research into waterbirds and seabirds, working closely with Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) staff in the BTO's Monitoring Team. The team's research explores the wide range of factors that may affect waterbird and seabird population dynamics, including climate change, habitat change and loss and the impacts of coastal and offshore developments. Niall's personal research work has focussed on assessing how waterbirds (from individuals to groups) respond to disturbance, habitat change and habitat loss.

Other Information

Niall is currently chair of the British Ornithologist's Union (BOU) Meetings Committee and has been a member of the BOU's Council since 2011. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia.

Recent BTO Publications

Chris B Thaxter, Gary Clewley, Lee Barber, Greg J Conway, Nigel A Clark, Emily S Scragg, Niall H K Burton 2018. Assessing habitat use of Herring Gulls in the Morecambe Bay SPA using GPS tracking devices. Research Report no. 693. British Trust for Ornithlogy, Thetford, Norfolk ISBN: 978-1-908581-82-2 77pp PDF icon Download Report (4.64 MB)
Gary D Clewley, Emily E Scragg, Chris B Thaxter, Niall H K Burton 2018. Assessing the habitat use of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) from the Bowland Fells SPA - ANNEX 1 - 2017 update. Research Report no. 694. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford, Norfolk 15pp PDF icon Download Report (1.13 MB)
Henrietta E K Pringle, Niall H K Burton 2018. Improving understanding of the possible relationship between improving freshwater and coastal water quality and bird interest on designated sites - phase 1 review. Research Report no. 696. British Trust for Ornithology , Thetford, Norfolk ISBN: 978-1-908581-83-9 50pp PDF icon Download Report (840.35 KB)
Thatxter, C.B., Ross-Smith, V.H., Bouten, W., Masden, E.A., Clark, N.A., Conway, G.J., Barber, L., Clewley, G.D. & Burton, N.H.K. 2018. Dodging the blades: new insights into three-dimensional space use of offshore wind farms by lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 587 : 247-253 View at journal website (DOI: 10.3354/meps12415)
Clewley, G.D., Scragg, E.S., Thaxter, C.B. & Burton, N.H.K. 2017. Assessing the habitat use of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) From the Bowland Fells SPA.. Research Report no. 694. British Trust for Ornithology ISBN: 9781908581815 60pp
Méndez, V., Gill, J.A., Alves, J.A., Burton, N.H.K. & Davies, R.G. 2017. Consequences of population change for local abundance and site occupancy of wintering waterbirds. Diversity and Distributions : 1 472-4 642 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12653)