Latest Research

Linnet, photograph by John Harding

Where in Britain are farmland and woodland birds declining most?

There is strong evidence that farmland, and to a lesser extent woodland, bird populations have declined in Britain. New analyses of Breeding Bird Survey data has shown the greatest losses have occurred in south-east Britain, identifying priority areas for further research and targeted conservation measures.

Long-tailed Tit, photograph by Edmund Fellowes

Understanding the effects of weather on bird populations

Analyses of national monitoring data show how resident and short-distance migrant populations tend to increase following warm winter and spring conditions. A more detailed field-based study of Long-tailed Tits has provided valuable insights about how such increases occur. Warmer temperatures in summer had a generally negative impact on populations, particularly if associated with drought, whilst long-distance migrants also appear to decline after a warm May.   

Sparrowhawk, photograph by Jill Pakenham

Applying new statistical methods to garden bird data

Many biological datasets have a spike in the number of observations at zero – i.e. when a species wasn’t recorded – which can be difficult to analyse. A new statistical approach, developed using data from the BTO’s Garden Bird Feeding Survey, has neatly addressed this issue, and provided new insights into a complex problem.

Long-eared Bat, photograph by Jez Blackburn

BTO research harnesses citizen science to make breakthroughs in bat monitoring

New BTO research shows how data collected by an army of volunteer citizen scientists have been used to map bats in unprecedented detail. The Norfolk Bat Survey began in 2013, and represents a novel way of collecting high-quality and extensive data sets on the distribution and activity of bat species.

Marsh Tit, photograph by Jill Pakenham

Where do Marsh Tits draw the line?

Tit taxonomy is complex, with several species and subspecies reclassified many times since they were first formally described. This paper uses data collected during ringing to examine subspecies in Marsh Tits, with conservation implications for this declining species.