Seabird scientist gets one of Ornithology's top awards

01 Oct 2014 | No. 2014-60

At a ceremony in London, seabird ecologist, Francis Daunt, was awarded the British Trust for Ornithology’s prestigious Marsh Award for Ornithology for his significant contribution to the understanding of the UK’s seabirds.

Dr Francis Daunt receiving his award
from The Duke of Edinburgh

Seabirds are one of the most internationally important components of the UK avifauna and their abundance is affected by fisheries, climate change, pollution and other anthropogenic factors. Francis’s work at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is essential for achieving a good understanding of the factors affecting seabird abundance and for providing the information that is needed to underpin population management.

Francis’s work provides a firm basis for studying a wide range of aspects of seabird ecology, including effects of weather, fisheries and marine renewables on survival and population dynamics, movements during the non-breeding season, synchrony in reproductive phenology and breeding success, the impact of parasites and the development of foraging behaviour.

In addition to these very thorough and detailed studies of seabird ecology, the work of Francis Daunt’s team extends to the monitoring of seabird populations and the provision of marine indicators. This work is of particular applied relevance at the present time given the rapid development of marine renewables, the implementation of Marine Protected Areas and concerns around the impact of marine fisheries on seabird populations.

The award was presented by The Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) at the Mall Gallery in London.

Francis Daunt said, “It’s a great privilege to receive this prestigious award from the Marsh Christian Trust and the BTO. Seabirds have iconic status with the general public and it’s critical that scientific evidence underpins conservation efforts given the current threats to their populations. I am delighted to have contributed to this, and this award also recognises the work of everyone in the CEH team and the long legacy of seabird research on the Isle of May.”

Andy Clements, BTO Director said, "The Marsh Awards for Ornithology enable BTO to recognise the excellent work of ornithologists at a variety of scales, all of whom are partners with BTO in ensuring science contributes to conservation.  I am particularly pleased that Dr Francis Daunt's contribution to understanding the ecology of seabirds has been recognised by this Award."

Notes for Editors

  1. Francis Daunt leads the seabird research programme at NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, where he has worked as a seabird ecologist since 2001. During the 1990s he worked as a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey and then undertook his PhD research at the University of Glasgow on age specific reproductive performance in Shags.
  2. The Marsh Award for Ornithology is available for an ornithologist who is making a significant contribution to the field, typically someone who gained a PhD between ten and twenty years prior to the award being made.  Amongst other things the panel will consider the significance of the research undertaken so far, contributions to training and capacity-building within ornithology, alignment with the BTO’s mission and engagement with the wider ornithological community.  The value of the prize is £1,000. 

    The Marsh Awards are supported by the Marsh Christian Trust and presented by the BTO at the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) event in October. See below details of each award.

    The Trust runs a portfolio of Awards with a number of internationally and nationally recognised organisations such as Barnardos, the British Museum and the Zoological Society of London. The Awards seek to recognise unsung heroes who all aim to improve the world we live in. Recipients of Marsh Awards range from scientists working in conservation biology and ecology, to authors and sculptors from the arts world, and those who give their time unselfishly to work with the young, the elderly, people with mental health issues and for our heritage.
  3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.
  4. The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is a public-sector research centre - part of the Natural Environment Research Council  (NERC) - which delivers independent research, survey, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences to advance knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system.
  5. The Society of Wildlife Artists is a registered charity that seeks to generate an appreciation of and delight in the natural world through all forms of fine art based on or representing the world’s wildlife. 

    Through exhibitions and publications of fine art the Society aims to further an awareness of the importance of conservation in order to maintain the variety of the world’s ecosystems and its wildlife.

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