Following many years as a Director of Science at the BTO, in November 2015 Rob retired as a member of staff. As a BTO Research Fellow he continues to research and write on topics mainly relating to forestry, habitat management and conservation strategies.
Interests & Responsibilities
- Rob has extensive experience of working on responses of biodiversity, especially birds, to land-use change and habitat management, mainly in agricultural and forest systems. Principal or co-investigator on >30 biodiversity projects in the last 20 years, contributing to the evidence base for policy and practice.
- Factors influencing spatial and temporal variation in temperate woodland and shrubland bird communities have been a long-term and ongoing research interest. He has recently co-edited a book on Ecology and Conservation of Forest Birds published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press.
- Particular interests are the ecological effects of changing vegetation structure and plant composition arising through processes such as increased deer browsing, shifts in woodland management and the emergence of ash dieback. Understanding the effects of these processes is essential for developing sound habitat management.
- Rob works with conservation practitioners through (i) application of ecological knowledge in habitat management, restoration and creation, and (ii) development of habitat-based conservation strategies. He also collaborates with historians to understand whether useful insights for conservation can be gained from knowledge of past land use.
- The ecology of breeding waders, especially their habitat selection and responses to land-use change has fascinated him for over 30 years. This interest has been pursued almost exclusively in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
- Rob supervised Bird Atlas 2007-11: The breeding and wintering birds of Britain and Ireland. He edited a major review on bird-habitat relationships, published by Cambridge University Press in November 2012: Birds and Habitat: Relationships in Changing Landscapes.
Honorary Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia.
The RSPB Medal fo services to nature conservation, awarded 2014.
Godman-Salvin Medal of the British Ornithologists' Union, awarded 2013.