Robert Anthony Robinson

Robert Anthony Robinson
British Trust for Ornithology | BTO

PhD

About

158
Publications
46,552
Reads
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6,445
Citations
Introduction
Changes in bird populations and distributions are determined by demography, particularly the combination of survival and productivity. My main interest lies in understanding how these processes operate, within an applied context, how the sum of individuals creates them and how they vary at different scales.This work involves applying novel statistical methods to make best use of our national data and contributes to www.bto.org/birdtrends, our annual assessment of Britain's bird populations.
Additional affiliations
August 1999 - present
British Trust for Ornithology
Position
  • Principal Ecologist

Publications

Publications (158)
Article
Full-text available
The influence of supplementary feeding of wildlife on disease transmission and its consequent impacts on population dynamics are underappreciated. In Great Britain, supplementary feeding is hypothesised to have enabled the spread of the protozoan parasite, Trichomonas gallinae, from columbids to finches, leading to epidemic finch trichomonosis and...
Article
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Following the first detection in the United Kingdom of Usutu virus (USUV) in wild birds in 2020, we undertook a multidisciplinary investigation that combined screening host and vector populations with interrogation of national citizen science monitoring datasets to assess the potential for population impacts on avian hosts. Pathological findings fr...
Article
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Aim: It is important to understand the factors affecting community stability because ecosystem function is increasingly at risk from biodiversity loss. Here, we evaluate how a key factor, the position of local environmental conditions within the thermal range of the species, influences the stability of butterfly communities at a continental scale....
Article
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The dynamics of wild populations are governed by demographic rates which vary spatially and/or temporally in response to environmental conditions. Conservation actions for widespread but declining populations could potentially exploit this variation to target locations (or years) in which rates are low, but only if consistent spatial or temporal va...
Article
This is the 82nd annual report of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Ringing Scheme, incorporating the report of the Nest Record Scheme and covering work carried out and data processed in 2018. We reviewed the literature on tracking devices to assess the impact of their use on individual birds. More than 3400 studies were identified, the first dat...
Article
Migratory species face geographically dispersed pressures over the course of their annual cycles. Designing effective conservation strategies for these species requires a detailed understanding of how these different pressures affect demographic rates throughout the annual cycle. As a long-lived species, population trends in the rapidly declining E...
Article
Wildlife conservation policies directed at common and widespread, but declining, species are difficult to design and implement effectively, as multiple environmental changes are likely to contribute to population declines. Conservation actions ultimately aim to influence demographic rates, but targeting actions towards feasible improvements in thes...
Article
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Impacts of ecological mismatches should be most pronounced at points of the annual cycle when populations depend on a predictable, abundant, and aggregated food resource that changes in timing or distribution. The degree to which species specialize on a key prey item, therefore, should determine their sensitivity to mismatches. We evaluated the hyp...
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Parasites have the capacity to affect animal populations by modifying host survival, and it is increasingly recognized that infectious disease can negatively impact biodiversity. Populations of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) have declined in many European towns and cities, but the causes of these declines remain unclear. We investigated asso...
Article
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Bird ring-recovery data have been widely used to estimate demographic parameters such as survival probabilities since the mid-20th century. However, while the total number of birds ringed each year is usually known, historical information on age at ringing is often not available. A standard ring-recovery model, for which information on age at ringi...
Article
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All ecological measurements are subject to error; the effects of missed detection (false negatives) are well known, but the effects of mistaken detection (false positives) are less understood. Long-term capture–recapture datasets provide valuable ecological insights and baselines for conservation and management, but where such studies rely on nonin...
Article
We review long‐term patterns of tracking device use and the reporting of the effects of such devices on individual birds. We assessed >3,400 primary references including >1,500 containing information as to whether effects were looked for and reported. Numbers of papers published increased at 4.4% per year. Research on foraging and energetics focuss...
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The optimum body mass of passerine birds typically represents a trade‐off between starvation risk, which promotes fat gain, and predation pressure, which promotes fat loss to maintain maneuvrability. Changes in ecological factors that affect either of these variables will therefore change the optimum body masses of populations of passerine birds. T...
Article
Bird ringing was established more than a century ago to gather information on bird movements. Since then, ornithologists have systematically collected huge databases of records of birds ringed and subsequently re-encountered, but, to date, there have been few quantitative attempts to identify migratory routes from ringing data. Here, we develop a n...
Article
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Proliferative leg skin lesions have been described in wild finches in Europe although there have been no large-scale studies of their aetiology or epizootiology to date. Firstly, disease surveillance, utilising public reporting of observations of live wild finches was conducted in Great Britain (GB) and showed proliferative leg skin lesions in chaf...
Article
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Capsule: Lower intensity mark-recapture studies, such as those undertaken by citizen scientists, provide an opportunity to improve the spatial representation of survival estimates for birds. Colonial nesting birds are particularly suited to this because, for many species, large numbers of breeding birds and chicks can be located relatively easily....
Article
This is the 81st annual report of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Ringing Scheme, incorporating the report of the Nest Record Scheme and covering work carried out and data collected and processed in 2017. Demographic data contributed to several research studies during the year, including a review of the conservation status of Raven Corvus corax...
Article
1.Public data archiving (PDA) is widely advocated as a means of achieving open data standards, leading to improved data preservation, increased scientific reproducibility and transparency, as well as additional data use. 2.PDA was primarily conceived to archive data from short‐term, single‐purpose scientific studies. It is now more widely applied,...
Article
Full-text available
Provision of supplementary food for wild birds at garden feeding stations is a common, large-scale and year-round practice in multiple countries including Great Britain (GB). While these additional dietary resources can benefit wildlife, there is a concomitant risk of disease transmission, particularly when birds repeatedly congregate in the same p...
Article
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Mist netting is the most commonly used method for catching birds for scientific ringing, but despite decades of use, there have been few attempts to quantify the associated potential risks to the individuals caught. Any incidence of mortality through capture and handling, however low, is of potential ethical concern and may also introduce biases in...
Article
This is the 80th annual report of the British Trust for Ornithology's Ringing Scheme, incorporating the report of the Nest Record Scheme and covering work carried out and data processed in 2016. BTO and JNCC have used seabird population data to investigate how demographic processes drive population changes, enabling improved population models to be...
Article
Assessing the potential impact of additional mortality from anthropogenic causes on animal populations requires detailed demographic information. However, these data are frequently lacking, making simple algorithms, which require little data, appealing. Because of their simplicity, these algorithms often rely on implicit assumptions, some of which...
Article
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Non-native predators can cause major declines or even localised extinctions in prey populations across the globe, especially on islands. The removal of non-native predators can, therefore, be a crucial conservation management tool but there can be challenges when they are viewed as charismatic in their own right. Four decades after their introducti...
Article
This is the 79th annual report of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Ringing Scheme, incorporating the report of the Nest Record Scheme and covering work carried out and data processed in 2015. Constant Effort Sites (CES) data from across Europe, relating to eight common warblers, were analysed to investigate large-scale variation in survival rate...
Article
Many factors may affect daily nest survival. We present a novel multi-state, multi-stage model to estimate daily survival for each nest stage, daily hatching probability and probability that a failed nest died during a specific stage when stage of failure is unknown. The model does not require that hatching date be known. We used data from a large...
Article
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Although density-dependent regulation of population growth is thought to be relatively widespread in nature, density-independent models are often used to project the population response to drivers of change. Such models are often considered to provide a maximum estimate of mortality and therefore offer a precautionary approach to impact assessment....
Data
Figure S1. The association between estimates of male and female recapture probability at the 34 CE sites (black line is the line of unity). Figure S2. Annual variation in the random effect of year included in models of adult annual survival of male (black circles) and female (open circles) willow warblers at CE sites. Appendix S1. jags code used...
Article
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Male‐biased sex ratios occur in many bird species, particularly in those with small or declining populations, but the causes of these skews and their consequences for local population demography are rarely known. Within‐species variation in sex ratios can help to identify the demographic and behavioural processes associated with such biases. Small...
Article
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Most studies of evolutionary responses to climate change have focused on phenological responses to warming, and provide only weak evidence for evolutionary adaptation. This could be because phenological changes are more weakly linked to fitness than more direct mechanisms of climate change impacts, such as selective mortality during extreme weather...
Article
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The proliferation of artificial lighting at night is one of the key anthropogenic changes associated with urbanised areas as well as some non-urban areas. Disruption to natural light/dark regimes can have considerable effects on the timing of different behaviours of birds, particularly during the breeding season. However, the effect of artificial l...
Article
Populations of migratory songbirds in western Europe show considerable variation in population trends between both species and regions. The demographic and environmental causes of these large-scale patterns are poorly understood. Using data from Constant Effort mist-netting studies, we investigated relationships between changes in abundance, adult...
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Drowning is infrequently reported as a cause of death of wild birds and such incidents typically involve individual, rather than multiple, birds. Over a 21-year period (1993 to 2013 inclusive), we investigated 12 incidents of mortality of multiple (2 − 80+) Common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in Great Britain that appeared to be due to drowning. Mo...
Article
This is the 78th annual report of the British Trust for Ornithology's Ringing Scheme, incorporating the report of the Nest Record Scheme and covering work carried out and data processed in 2014. Many species have shifted their range towards the Earth's poles in response to global temperature increases. Data from four European Constant Effort Sites...
Article
Productivity is a key demographic trait that can be influenced by climate change, but there are substantial gaps in our understanding of the impact of weather on productivity and recruitment in birds. Weather is known to influence reproductive success in numerous species, although such effects have not been reported in all studies, perhaps because...
Article
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Capsule: Breeding Willow Warblers, Phylloscopus trochilus, in the UK have advanced in timing of breeding but with little impact on overall productivity. Aims: To quantify the impact of shifts in timing of breeding on changes in Willow Warbler productivity across the UK. Methods: Using records of ∼7000 nests from the British Trust for Ornithology Ne...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report presents individual species accounts for a selection of British seabirds, sea ducks, divers and grebes. Each account gathers the most up to date published estimates on the following demographic parameters: age-specific survival, age-specific productivity, age of recruitment, incidence of missed breeding, and natal and adult breeding dis...
Technical Report
Background The west coast habitats of the Uists hold concentrations of breeding waders that are exceptional in Scottish, British and wider European contexts. Observed declines in wader populations on South Uist and Benbecula since the 1980s were argued to be largely due to predation of clutches by hedgehogs, which were first introduced to the islan...
Article
AimAs global temperatures have increased, many species distributions have exhibited polewards shifts, a trend that is predicted to continue in future decades. However, the mechanisms underlying such shifts are not well understood. Here we quantify the impact of large-scale variation in temperature on reproductive output within a group of migratory...
Article
Full-text available
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito borne arbovirus that circulates within avian reservoirs. WNV can spill over into humans and Equidae that are dead-end hosts for WNV but suffer fever, acute morbidity and sometimes death. Outbreaks of WNV are common across Africa and Eastern Europe, and there have also been sporadic outbreaks in Spain and the Cama...
Article
Warmer temperatures resulting from climate change have led to predictions that the duration of the breeding season of many temperate bird species may be changing. However, the extent to which breeding seasons can be altered will also depend on the degree of flexibility in processes occurring at other points in the annual cycle. In particular, plast...
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Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus numbers in England have fluctuated in recent decades. Both breeding and wintering populations rose sharply in the latter half of the twentieth century, mostly due to increases at a small number of colonies and changes in migratory behaviour. However, there was a decline in breeding birds between 2000 and 2013 (...
Article
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Migration is a fundamental stage in the life history of several taxa, including birds, and is under strong selective pressure. At present, the only data that may allow for both an assessment of patterns of bird migration and for retrospective analyses of changes in migration timing are the databases of ring recoveries. We used ring recoveries of th...
Article
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We introduce the R-package ‘birdring’, which provides a collection of R-functions to help with the analysis of ring re-encounter data. At present, it contains functions to read EURING data into R, to draw maps for visualising recovery data, to re-code EURING code into interpretable names, and to calculate the loxodromic and orthodromic distances be...
Article
Butler and Norris (2013) describe a modelling framework designed to predict farmland bird population trends with reference to the resources provided by the habitats found at the sites. There are several important problems with the approach taken by Butler and Norris and with its suitability for the specific data to which it is applied. Principally,...
Article
1.Landscapes are becoming increasingly intensively managed resulting in greater anthropogenic disturbance of ecosystems. Effective policies for conservation and management of wildlife populations will require a mechanistic understanding of the processes underlying the population responses to these changes. Detailed demographic studies are often of...