Paper call for special HPAI issue

Understanding the impacts of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks on wild birds

The British Trust for Ornithology has had a fantastic response to its call for contributions for a Special Issue of its journal Bird Study, documenting and exploring the impacts of the unprecedented recent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on wild bird populations. The manuscript submission deadline closed on 30 April 2024. Those authors who have been in correspondence with the Editors about submissions, but have yet to submit their manuscript, can still do so via the submissions portal for the journal.

A special issue of the BTO journal Bird Study, bringing together research documenting the HPAI outbreak and its impacts on wild birds, will be published in late 2024.


Since October 2021, there has been an unprecedented HPAI outbreak in wild birds, starting in Europe where it was initially documented in wintering waterbirds and then in breeding seabirds and other species, including raptors. The virus has now spread through the Americas as well as continuing to impact populations in Africa and Asia. Understanding the impacts of this disease is essential, both to better manage these outbreaks and to inform wider conservation efforts already being directed towards bird populations that are facing other challenges, such as climate change and pollution.

A coordinated response to the outbreaks in Europe has seen researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders come together to identify short-, medium- and long-term responses to the disease, including management interventions, monitoring and surveillance needs, and research priorities. Given this concentrated effort, there is real value in bringing some of the resulting papers together in a journal special issue – alongside others that capture the broader geographic extent of the recent outbreaks – to raise the impact of the work that is being done, especially within policy and practice audiences. In doing so this should make it easier for others to learn from recent evidence so as to deliver more effective management for species conservation and recovery in the future.


The goal of this special issue is to document what we know so far from Europe, but also to gather contributions that document the broader geography and impacts of the outbreaks on wild bird populations globally, develop predictive models of avian influenza spread and impact, test management interventions, and explore other aspects of disease transmission. We were particularly keen to attract research articles and short communications related (but not limited) to the following topics:

  • Host susceptibility and immunity: research investigating the factors that influence which wild bird species are more susceptible to HPAI and why.
  • Impact on populations: research documenting or assessing the impact of HPAI on wild bird populations, including effects on reproduction, survival, and population dynamics. This can be at large-scales, or focussed on particular sites. 
  • Disease transmission dynamics: research exploring how HPAI spreads among wild bird populations; for example, transmission routes (such as migratory patterns, social behaviours, and environmental reservoirs), how disease spreads between individual birds, and how the virus evolves into different strains over time and impacts different bird populations.
  • Epidemiology and surveillance: research testing and documenting effective monitoring and surveillance strategies.
  • Disease interactions: research investigating the interactions between wild birds, domestic poultry, other taxa (e.g. mammals) and human populations, including work on biosecurity measures and interventions at these interfaces. This could also include One Health approaches.
  • Conservation responses: papers testing interventions to reduce transmission risk or impacts of disease, or considering potential conservation responses to HPAI impacts on wild birds. 
  • Policy responses: papers outlining potential policy responses to reduce the risk of future HPAI outbreaks, including a One Health approach. Considering the global nature of the virus, papers in this area could be national or international in focus. 

How to submit a manuscript:

Submissions are now closed, but we know that there are a few manuscripts that are still on there way. These can be submitted through the journal's submission portal. If you have any queries about this issue or about your manuscript, please contact the editors for this special issue phil.atkinson [at] (subject: Bird%20Study%20HPAI%20issue) (Phil Atkinson) or stephen.baillie [at] (subject: Bird%20Study%20HPAI%20issue) (Stephen Baillie). Formal submission will be handled through the Bird Study online submission system within ScholarOne.

The manuscripts are undergoing the regular peer-review process. As soon as an article is accepted, it will be published as an early view article on the journal webpage. All accepted articles will be published together in a Bird Study special issue.  

Manuscript Submission Deadline: Now closed

Please refer to Bird Study’s author guidelines for details on how to prepare your manuscript before submission. 

Editors of the special issue

Dr Stephen Baillie is a Senior Research Fellow at the British Trust for Ornithology where he undertakes, develops and supervises research on bird migration and population dynamics. He led the recently completed Eurasian-African Bird Migration Atlas project and has been involved in the development of EFSA's Bird Flu Radar, a prototype early warning system for avian influenza in Europe based on risk-mapping. He is also a Principal Investigator on a project with the University of Durham that is developing process oriented models of European-African bird migration.

Professor Phil Atkinson is a population ecologist specialising in the impacts of environmental change on wild bird populations in the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments. He is head of the Dispersed and Future Threats team and currently oversees the British Trust for Ornithology’s work on highly pathogenic avian influenza.

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