My research at the RSPB tackles a range of questions related to understanding the consequences of global climate change on sensitive species and investigating potential conservation measures promoting adaption to climate impacts.
Much of this work focuses on using large and long-term population datasets to examine putative climate impacts in rare and declining upland bird species in the UK. For example, working with colleagues at Aberdeen University, an important recent focus has been investigating the role of climate change and nitrogen pollution in the decline of dotterel, one of the UK's few truly montane bird species. Another collaborative project with colleagues in Iceland and Norway uses state-space models and long-term population count data to understand whether changing winter sea-surface temperatures account for large-scale changes in Northern European Slavonian grebe populations.
As well as birds, my research interests encompass climate change impacts in invertebrates, notably butterflies and craneflies. I lead RSPB's developing scientific research on the mountain ringlet butterfly, an important component of which is developing habitat management prescriptions to increase climate change resilience in this species.
I have growing research interest in landscape scale conservation planning, and particularly whether providing 'bigger, better and joined-up' landscapes can increase resilience of species to climate change. A current project is modelling the response of woodland grouse under different landscape and climate change scenarios.
Other assorted research interests include the use of tracking technologies to better understand fine- and large-scale species movements, bird survey and monitoring methods and conservation genetics of small and bottlenecked populations, particularly assessed using pedigree-based statistical genetics.
Partners and Collaboration
- Prof Rene van der Wal, University of Aberdeen
- Prof Des Thompson, Scottish Natural Heritage
- Dr Jenny Hodgson, University of Liverpool
- Dr Lukas Keller, University of Zurich