Meet . . . our Meetings Committee

Dr Francis Daunt


Francis Daunt is an ecologist whose research has focussed on the causes of population change in UK seabirds. After completing a PhD at the University of Glasgow, he joined the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) in 2001 and has spent the last two decades researching the effects of anthropogenic change on seabirds, in particular climate change (including extreme events), fisheries and marine renewables. His approach is to link behavioural ecology, life history variation and population dynamics, collaborating with statisticians and modellers to analyse key drivers of change at the individual and population level. He has published >120 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and his research feeds into a range of policy areas including marine protection, fishery policy and sustainable development of offshore renewable developments. He coordinates the long-term study of seabird populations on the Isle of May, one of the longest running and most comprehensive of its kind in the world. He has been a member of the BOU for over two decades and a regular attendee at its annual conferences. He is an Ibis Associate Editor and chairs BOU’s Meetings Committee.

Dr José Alves

José completed his PhD at the University of East Anglia and is currently a Senior Researcher at the Universities of Aveiro and Iceland. He is an ecologist with specific interests in the mechanisms by which organisms respond to environmental change with particular attention to migratory systems. His research focuses on patterns of segregation, seasonal interactions and individuals trade-offs, and their consequences for population demography, distribution and species conservation.

Follow José on Twitter @_JoseAAlves_

Dr Maria Bogdanova

Maria completed her undergraduate studies and MSc degree in Ecology at Sofia University in her native Bulgaria. She then took up a research position at the Institute of Zoology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences where she studied the ecology and behaviour of endangered waterfowl species, and passerine bird migration. In 2001 she moved to the UK to do a PhD in Behavioural Ecology at the University of Glasgow looking at variation in parental investment during egg production and incubation in gulls. This was followed by post-doctoral research at Glasgow investigating temporal and spatial variation in survival and habitat use of red-billed choughs, with the aim of devising science-based conservation policy for the species. Since 2008 she has been working at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology where her research focuses on the effects of environmental and demographic variation, as well as direct human impacts, on the foraging ecology, movements and spatial distributions of seabirds throughout their annual cycle. Her work contributes to the identification and protection of key areas for seabirds around breeding colonies and at their wintering grounds.

Steve Dudley

Chief Operations Officer

Steve has worked in and around ornithology, and in particular science communication, since 1985. He started life as an RSPB reserves engagement officer before moving to the BTO (membership development officer) and then, in 1997, appointed as the BOU’s senior staff member to run the day to day operations of Union.

Steve’s role is very varied and means he has his fingers in most BOU pies, including delivering all BOU conferences and events (including in recent years our series of Twitter conferences), running the business and marketing side of the BOU’s journal, IBIS, website development and content management as well as servicing BOU Council and its five Standing Committees. Steve also undertakes all the BOU’s comms and social media (including the development of the BOU Twitter conferences), and in recent years has been actively involved in researching the ornithological community’s use of social media. With a background in design, in 2019 Steve designed the new Janet Kear Union Medal replacing the BOU’s existing Union Medal which had been in service since 1912.

Steve is an active birder and naturalist and can usually be found wandering the Huntingdonshire fens.

Dr Danny Heptinstall

Danny is a birder by background and an independent expert government adviser on biodiversity by profession. He works for the UK Government agency, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). At JNCC Danny has two distinct but inter-related roles as a thematic adviser on the development and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, and as technical adviser on ornithology specialising on the African-Eurasian flyway. Specific work areas include advising on the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, advising on the monitoring and reporting of UK bird populations, and advising on avian wildlife crime priorities. Prior to JNCC Danny undertook research on Red Kites, worked for the UK Houses of Parliament as a science adviser, the Scottish Government as a legal consultant, the RSPB as a Policy Officer, and BirdLife Europe as a Brussels-based lobbyist. Away from nature, Danny has a broader interest in the applied role of evidence in policymaking and has guest lectured on the topic at the London School of Economics (LSE), University of Cambridge, and Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS). Danny’s role on the Meetings Committee is to advise on how BOU meetings could have a greater policy relevance.

Dr Joelene Hughes

After many wonderful years of being involved in ecological and biodiversity conservation research that has taken her from the Arctic to Antarctica via many countries in between, Joelene’s research interests now lie in studying people for the benefit of nature conservation. After completing a PhD at the University of Aberdeen, Joelene mixed ecological and social research as a post-doc at the University of Oxford before moving to the RSPB. As a Principal Conservation Scientist for RSPB, Joelene explores the relationships between nature, humans and conservation. She is involved in a range of collaborations and research projects investigating, among other things, the concept of connection to nature, sense of place, attitudes, conflicts and other factors that may affect or spark pro-conservation behaviour.

Follow Joelene on Twitter @joelene_x3

Angela Langford

Journal & Office Manager

Angela graduated from Hull University with a BSc in Environmental Botany and Geography, went on to do a PGCE and taught Science for a number of years. After starting a family she decided on a change of direction and set up a carnivorous plant nursery and tropical butterfly house in southern Scotland. Still looking for a new challenge she later established a second hand bookshop in Wigtown (Scotland’s National booktown), specialising in natural history. This love of books lead to establishing a publishing business, Langford Press, which concentrated on wildlife art. Living in beautiful Pembrokeshire, Angela spends her spare time walking the coastal path with her dog and enjoying the wonderful wildlife of the area. Angela joined the BOU as a staff member in 2008.

Dr Cat Morrison

Cat’s primary research interests are in understanding the demographic and environmental processes influencing the population dynamics of wild populations. She undertook her PhD at the University of East Anglia (UEA), working closely with the BTO. The research used BTO long-term datasets to understand the drivers of population change in African-Eurasian migratory birds. After her PhD she spent two years as a Research Ecologist in the BTO’s Demography Unit working on the development of integrated population models and one of the first studies to use the data collected by ringers to explore the variation in timing and duration of moult.

Cat returned to UEA in 2015 as a post-doc continuing the research that emerged from her PhD, using site-level comparisons of species demography to explore the drivers of population decline in African-Eurasian migrant species across Europe. She has recently finished a short lecturing contract at UEA and am about to start a NERC funded post-doc exploring population and demographic synchrony in European bird populations.

Dr Ana Payo_Payo

An academic fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Ana is a population ecologist working at the interface of theoretical and quantitative ecology trying to understand the processes driving spatial-temporal dynamics of animal species in a global change context. her research specifically focuses on the effects of density dependence, stochasticity and extreme perturbations on different life history traits such as survival, breeding performance, dispersal, migration and colonization processes. She believes that science and humour are transformative tools for a more informed, responsible and sustainable society. Ultimately, Ana aims to provide robust scientific evidence to inform species management and conservation and to promote scientific literacy.

Follow Ana on Twitter @anapayopayo

Dr Rob Robinson

Rob’s first (surviving) recorded birding observations were made on the 1 January 1981 at the wonderful Aberlady Bay as a young child; since then his species list has improved, though he is less sure the handwriting has. Following a degree at Edinburgh (where he first became a BOU Member) and a PhD with Bill Sutherland at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Rob first worked at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s (JNCC) Aberdeen office on seabird distribution, before moving back to Norfolk for a two-year contract at the BTO. Twenty years later, Rob still finds the BTO a great organisation to work for, and he is now an Associate Director. Although Rob’s interests range widely across ornithology, and ecology more generally, his main focus is on understanding what causes changes in bird populations and quantifying the demographic processes involved. This has led to an increasing use, and appreciation of the power, of Bayesian statistics, most recently in collaboration with colleagues from the Swiss Ornithological Institute.

As well and being a member of BOU’s Meetings Committee, Rob is also an Associate Editor of IBIS. Rob is also Vice-Chair of Euring and an Honorary Reader at UEA. His birding activities continue, mostly through wader ringing projects, to which he has contributed to all continents except Antarctica.

Follow Rob on Twitter @btorobrob

Dr Amanda Trask

Amanda’s research interests include conservation biology, population genetics and population ecology. She is currently a postdoctoral research assistant at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London and is currently working on species recovery planning for the extinct-in-the-wild sihek or Guam Kingfisher. Her previous research includes contributing towards an understanding of how genetic, demographic and environmental threats can impact the viability of the small, isolated population of Scottish Red-billed Choughs.

Follow Amanda on Twitter @amandaetrask