Dr Fiona Burns

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

Background

I work in the Monitoring Science section on a broad range of projects developing ways to assess and communicate the health of biodiversity.  Including:

1) Undertaking ecological research to understand better how species groups or biodiversity more broadly is changing and why, for example assessing how the total abundance of birds has changed across the EU

2) Developing high level metrics and indicators of biodiversity change, several of which are now used as official statistics by the UK and devolved governments

3) Playing a central role in the State of Nature Partnership and the production the State of Nature report series (nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019)

4) Supporting our policy colleagues to develop nature conservation targets and embed them into domestic legislation and international agreements.

Our work is collaborative and applied; we work with a wide range of organisations from across the conservation sector, including NGOs, academic institutions and statutory agencies, as well as teams across the RSPB.  We are always keen to develop new collaborations, so please feel free to get in touch to discuss our work or project ideas.

External Activities

  • Policy Officer: BES Quantitative Ecology Special Interest Group

Partners and Collaboration

  • The State of Nature Partnership

Contact

Fiona Burns

Dr Fiona Burns

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science

RSPB Centre of Conservation Science, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 3QZ

fiona.burns@rspb.org.uk

@F_E_Burns

Research Gate

Specialisms

Identifying problems International species UK species

Selected Publications

The State of Nature 2019

The State of Nature report 2019 presents an overview of how wildlife is faring in the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. Additionally, it assesses the pressures that are acting on nature, and the responses being made, collectively, to counter these pressures

Date
07 October 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Daniel Hayhow, Dr Mark Eaton, Dr Fiona Burns, Andrew Stanbury, Will Kirby, Dr Joelene Hughes
Authors
Hayhow, Daniel Eaton, Mark Burns, Fiona Stanbury, Andrew Kirby, Will Bailey, Neil Beckmann, Björn C. Bedford, Jacob Boersch-Supan, Philipp Coomber, Frazer Dennis, Emily Dolman, Sarah Dunn, Euan Hall, Jonathan Harrower, Colin Hatfield, Jack Hawley, Jenny Haysom, Karen Hughes, Joelene Symes, Nigel
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Agricultural management and climatic change are the major drivers of biodiversity change in the UK

Action to reduce anthropogenic impact on the environment and species within it will be most effective when targeted towards activities that have the greatest impact on biodiversity. To do this effectively we need to better understand the relative importance of different activities ...

Date
23 March 2016
RSPB Authors
Dr Fiona Burns, Dr Mark Eaton, Simon Wotton, Prof Richard Gregory
Authors
Burns, F., Eaton, M.A., Barlow, K.E., Beckmann, B.C., Brereton, T., Brooks, D.R., Brown, P.M.J., Al Fulaij, N., Gent, T., Henderson, I., Noble, D.G., Parsons, M., Powney, G.D., Roy, H.E., Stroh, P., Walker, K., Wilkinson, J.W., Wotton, S.R. & Gregory, R.D.
Published in
Plos One
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Drivers of European bat population change: a review reveals evidence gaps

Bat populations are thought to have suffered significant declines in the past century throughout Europe. Fortunately, there are some signs of recovery; for instance, of the 11 species monitored in the UK, population trends of five are increasing. The drivers of past losses and recent trends are unclear; identifying them will enable targeted conservation strategies to support further recovery.
We review the evidence linking proposed drivers to impacts on bat populations in Europe, using the results of a previous cross-taxa semi-quantitative assessment as a framework. Broadly, the drivers reviewed relate to land-use practices, climate change, pollution, development and infrastructure, and human disturbance. We highlight where evidence gaps or conflicts present barriers to successful conservation and review emerging opportunities to address these gaps.
We find that the relative importance or impacts of the potential drivers of bat population change are not well understood or quantified, with conflicting evidence in many cases. To close key gaps in the evidence for responses of bat populations to environmental change, future studies should focus on the impacts of climate change, urbanisation, offshore wind turbines, and water pollution, as well as on mitigation measures and the synergistic effects of putative drivers.
To increase available evidence of drivers of bat population change, we propose utilising advances in monitoring tools and statistical methods, together with robust quantitative assessment of conservation interventions to mitigate threats and enable the effective conservation of these protected species.

Date
20 February 2021
RSPB Authors
Dr Fiona Burns
Authors
Browning, Ella Barlow, Kate E Burns, Fiona Hawkins, Charlotte Boughey, Katherine
Published in
Mammal Review
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The priority species indicator: measuring the trends in threatened species in the UK

We describe the development of two complementary priority species indicators (PSIs) to help the UK to report progress towards Aichi target 12 on the status of known threatened species. Based on species identified as national conservation priorities, the indicators present...

Date
11 August 2015
RSPB Authors
Dr Mark Eaton, Dr Fiona Burns, Prof Richard Gregory
Authors
Eaton, M.A., Burns, F., Isaac, N.J.B., Gregory, R.D., August, T.A., Barlow, K.E., Brereton, T., Brooks, D.R., Fulaij, N.A., Haysom, K.A., Noble, D.G., Outhwaite, C., Powney, G.D., Procter, D. & Williams, J.
Published in
Biodiversity
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Parental cooperation in a changing climate: fluctuating environments predict shifts in care division

Aim: Parental care improves the survival of offspring and therefore has a major impact on reproductive success. It is increasingly recognized that coordinated biparental care is necessary to ensure the survival of offspring in hostile...

Date
01 March 2017
RSPB Authors
Dr Fiona Burns
Authors
Vincze, O., Kosztolányi, A., Barta, Z., Küpper, C., Alrashidi, M., Amat, J.A., Argüelles Ticó, A., Burns, F., Cavitt, J., Conway, W.C., Cruz-López, M., Desucre-Medrano, A., dos Remedios, N., Figuerola, J., Galindo-Espinosa, D., García-Peña, G.E., Gómez Del Angel, S., Gratto-Trevor, C., Jönsson, P., Lloyd, P., Montalvo, T., Parra, J., Pruner, R., Que, P., Liu, Y., Saalfeld, S.T., Schulz, R., Serra, L., St Clair, J.J.H., Stenzel, L.E., Weston, M.A., Yasué, M., Zefania, S. & Székely, T.
Published in
Global Ecology and Biogeography 26: 347-358
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