Samantha Franks

Sam Franks


Research Ecologist


I work on a range of projects examining the affect of climate and habitat change on bird populations, with a particular focus on migrants and waders.


2012 - PhD, Simon Fraser University, Canada: Population connectivity and the causes and consequences of differential migration in a long distance migratory shorebird, the Western Sandpiper
2005 - BSc Honours Zoology, University of Toronto, Canada

Research Interests/Responsibilities

My research interests focus on exploring how our changing environment is influencing avian populations, particularly long-distance migrants and waders. I'm particularly interested in investigating the ecological drivers of survival and productivity, and relating events across the annual cycle to changes in the demographic and ecological processes influencing population change. Some of my research also investigates how aspects of the environment, including habitat and climatic variables, influence patterns of avian distribution and abundance. I've used a range of methods, including stable isotopes, geolocators and satellite tags, to track the movements and connectivity of migrant bird populations throughout the annual cycle and to investigate how events occurring in one season carry-over to influence individuals in subsequent seasons.
Current projects include exploring the habitat use of BTO's satellite-tagged cuckoos during autumn migration, investigating the drivers of population declines in UK-breeding Curlew, and examining how climate change might impact UK bird populations through changes in the timing of breeding and invertebrate availability in spring.
I also represent BTO in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative's (CCI) David Attenborough Building as the Collaborative Coordinator. My aims for this role are to develop and facilitate strategic collaborations for BTO within the CCI and wider conservation communities.

Selected Publications

  • Reudink, M.W., Kyle, C.J., McKellar, A.E., Somers, C.M., Reudink, R.L.F., Kyser, T.K., Franks, S.E. & Nocera, J.J. 2016. Linking Isotopes and Panmixia: High Within-Colony Variation in Feather δ2H, δ13C, and δ15N across the Range of the American White Pelican. PLOS ONE, 11, e0150810.
  • Franks, S.E., Lank, D.B., Wilson, W.H. 2014. Western Sandpiper.  The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.) Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  • Franks, S.E., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Ausden, M. and Massimino, D. 2014. Increasing the resilience of the UK's Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to climate change. Report for Natural England.
  • Franks, S.E., Fernández, G., Hodkinson, D.J., Kyser, T.K. and Lank, D.B. 2013. The long and the short of it: no dietary specialisation between male and female Western Sandpipers despite strong bill size dimorhism. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79835. doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0079835.
  • Bugajski, A., Reudink, M., Doucette, J.L., Franks, S.E., Wissel, B. and Somers, C.M. 2013. The complexity of cormorants: stable isotopes reveal multiple prey sources and feeding site switching.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 70: 271-279.
  • Franks, S.E., Norris, D.R., Kyser, T.K., Fernández, G., Schwarz, B., Carmona, R., Colwell, M. A., Sandoval, J.C., Dondua, A., Gates, H.R., Haase, B., Hodkinson, D.J., Jimenez, A., Lanctot, R. B., Ortego, B., Sandercock, B.K., Sanders, F., Takekawa, J.Y., Warnock, N., Ydenberg, R.C. and Lank, D.B. 2012. Range-wide patterns of migratory connectivity in the Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri.  Journal of Avian Biology 43:155-167.
  • Franks, S.E., Lank, D.B., Norris, D.R., Sandercock, B.K., Taylor, C.M. and Kyser, T.K. 2009. Stable isotope analysis discriminates age classes of Western, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers when plumage methods are unreliable. Journal of Field Ornithology 80:51-63.

Contact details

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