Gavin Siriwardena

British Trust for Ornithology
Thetford, Norfolk

The BTO has a strong track record in respect of research on birds and, increasingly, other taxa in urban habitats and with respect to climate/weather effects. We hold unique data sets with national coverage on birds, butterflies and mammals and have proven expertise in their analysis and interpretation. The data are collected by thousands of volunteer “citizen scientists”, who also provide a potentially valuable resource for additional data collection or social research. 

The key data sets for urban systems are the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), which covers a random sample of the UK landscape via 3500 1km squares that are surveyed annually, and the BTO Garden Bird Watch (GBW), which began in 1995 and covers 15000 gardens with weekly bird recording throughout the year. The BBS started in 1994 and 8% of the sample covers urban landscapes.

The BBS data cover all landscape types so are potentially relevant to any systems affected by natural hazards or extreme events. In addition, BTO/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) data cover all coastal wetlands (including estuaries) and a sample of inland freshwaters, so are particularly relevant to problems relating to flooding. They consist of winter count data for waterbirds and waders since the 1970s (with some earlier data and some summer counts as well). 

At the BTO, we are keen to be involved with any bid wishing to make use of our expertise and data resources, for analytical and modelling applications. Using techniques we have developed, the data are well-suited to measuring the impacts of environmental variation in space or time and to the prediction of changes under different scenarios. In addition, our volunteer base potentially facilitates social and environmental data collection, while we have recent initiatives integrating art and science, such as via the Society of Wildlife Artists. We are an IRO eligible for Managed Mode funding and have a flexible staffing structure that readily adapts to various sizes of research commitment.

Research provider
Natural Sciences
Research Area: 
Natural hazards & extreme weather events
Urban ecosystems
Health and wellbeing