Latest Research

Crossing the Sahara desert: migratory strategies of the Grasshopper Warbler

Although a quarter of Europe’s breeding bird population crosses the Sahara on spring and autumn migration, when, where and how species prepare for and recover from this difficult and dangerous part of their journey remains poorly understood. Recent work by the Wetland Trust and the BTO has used ringing datasets from Portugal and Senegal to explore these questions in the Grasshopper Warbler.

Chaffinch. Photograph by Jill Pakenham.

Trichomonosis spread by migrating finches

Since its emergence in 2005, the parasitic disease trichomonosis has caused epidemic mortality and significant population declines in British Greenfinches and Chaffinches. This began in western England and Wales, but spread to eastern England, and more recently, southern Fennoscandia.

English Regional Indicator Results (1994 – 2009)

Newly updated indicators for breeding bird populations in nine regions of England (formerly Government Office Regions) were published on September 22, 2011. The latest results show that farmland birds continue to decline in the east, south-east and the south west of England but remain relatively stable in the north.

Curlew. Photograph by John Harding

Modelling changes in species’ abundance in response to projected climate change

There has been plenty of work on the effect that climate change might have on the range of particular bird species; for example, Dartford Warbler is predicted to extend its range north with an increase in temperature. However, for the first time, scientists at BTO have looked at what effect climate change might have on the distribution and abundance of particular species. Four were chosen; two with a southerly distribution, Nuthatch and Green Woodpecker, and two with a more northerly distribution, Meadow Pipit and Curlew.

Gannets. Photograph by Jill Pakenham

Making sense of monitoring

Research by the BTO and the JNCC shows that the regions used by policy makers in monitoring and protecting the UK’s internationally important seabird populations are not necessarily meaningful on an ecological level. Consequently, the effects of man’s marine activities, such as fishing, dredging and shipping, on seabirds could be overlooked.