Simon Gillings

Principal Data Scientist

Simon works with colleagues across BTO to provide strategic leadership, analytical input and design input into the development of data products for internal and external audiences.

Interests & Responsibilities

Simon's main interest is in developing methods and applications that turn BTO data into accessible, robust and visually appealing products for different audiences and stakeholders.  He is working with colleagues in the Surveys and IS teams to produce new visualisations that better communicate what BTO volunteers' data tell us about the natural world.  He is keen to integrate different data to produce improved insights, for example to contribute to Environmental Impact Assessments.  In parallel, Simon works with colleagues to develop bioacoustic monitoring techniques and associated data management infrastructure for use in engagement, monitoring and research.

Other Information

Simon is a keen birder and avid user of BirdTrack. As such he is always keen to see the use of birdwatchers' records for research and conservation through appropriate analytical design and novel data visualisation. A recent example is the production of data-driven calendar wheels and novel seasonal abundance maps for the Collins-BTO Guide to British Birds.


BSc (Hons) Ecology, University of East Anglia, 1992-1995 PhD Diurnal and nocturnal ecology of Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria and Lapwings Vanellus vanellus wintering on arable farmland, University of East Anglia, 1999-2003

Recent BTO Publications

Darvill, B., Harris, S.J., Martay, B., Wilson, M. & Gillings, S. 2020. Delivering robust population trends for Scotland's widespread breeding birds. Scottish Birds 40 (part 4) : 297-304 8pp
Massimino, D., Harris, S.J. & Gillings, S. 2020. Phenological mismatch between breeding birds and their surveyors and implications for estimating population trends. Journal of Ornithology View at journal website (DOI: 10.1007/s10336-020-01821-5)
Plummer, K.E., Gillings, S. & Siriwardena, G.M. 2020. Evaluating the potential for bird‐habitat models to support biodiversity‐friendly urban planning. Journal of Applied Ecology View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13703)
Harris, S.J., Massimino, D., Balmer, D.E., Eaton, M.A., Noble, D.G., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Woodcock, P. & Gillings, S. 2020. The Breeding Bird Survey 2019. Research Report no. 726. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford ISBN: 978-1-912642-15-1
Border, J.A. & Gillings, S. 2020. Fine-scale mapping of relative abundance and trends, and extraction of small-area population trends for breeding birds. Research Report no. 720. BTO, Thetford ISBN: 978-1-912642-08-3 28pp
Hill, A., Gillings, S., Berriman, A., Brouwer, A., Breed, A.C., Snow, L., Ashton, A., Byrne, C. & Irvine, R.M. 2019. Quantifying the spatial risk of Avian Influenza introduction into British poultry by wild birds. Scientific Reports 9 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-56165-9)

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