Wetland and marine

Puffin  (Derek Belsey, Cliff Reddick)

Puffin  (Derek Belsey, Cliff Reddick)

The inland, coastal and marine waters of the UK all hold internationally important bird populations. The BTO undertakes a broad range of research and monitoring work on the waterbird and seabird populations that use these important but dynamic environments, improving understanding of the status of some of the country’s most important conservation sites.

In our role as a partner in the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) we organise 3,000 volunteers to systematically monitor the populations of UK’s non-breeding waterbirds. We are also a partner in the Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP) that monitors the populations and breeding success of the UK’s breeding seabirds. Information from these schemes is used to determine the condition of sites protected under domestic and European legislation for their important waterbird and seabird features. Our co-ordination of the Wetland Bird Survey enables us to develop new methods that help gain scientific understanding of waterbird population dynamics, while we also aim to improve monitoring coverage of all of the UK’s breeding and non-breeding waterbirds and seabirds.  Members of our team are also currently working on developing a national sea-watching scheme to further our knowledge of seabird movements and distribution away from breeding colonies.

Our research work aims to investigate the key drivers of waterbird and seabird population change, which include climate change and renewable energy schemes, changes to and loss of habitat, disturbance and introduced non-native species.

For further information on wetland and marine issues contact a member of BTO staff;

Niall Burton (Head of Wetland and Marine), Graham Austin (Senior Research Ecologist), Liz Humphreys (Research Ecologist, BTO Scotland),  Chris Thaxter (Research Ecologist), or Viola Ross-Smith (Research Ecologist).

Recent Wetland and Marine research

Curlew chicks, photograph by Hugh Insley

Curlews and godwits - the vanishing tribe

New collaborative research led by the BTO investigates reasons for recent losses in curlews and godwits worldwide and identifies conservation measures which could be put in place to halt the declines.
Wind farm, photograph by Tommy Holden

Assessing the impact of offshore wind farms on seabird populations

New research from the BTO has examined the different analytical tools used to assess the likely population-level impact of offshore wind farm developments on seabirds, finding that these vary widely and are influenced to a large extent by the assumptions made at the start of the analysis.
Gulls, photograph by David Williams

Assessing offshore wind farm impact assessments for breeding seabirds

As the number of offshore wind farms increases, it is important to correctly assess the impact that these developments can have on wildlife. New research led by the BTO examines this situation for seabirds, considering the current environmental impact assessment process in light of the key factors that determine seabird population dynamics.