Last night Dr Francis Daunt of CEH received the 2014 Marsh Award for Ornithology. The Award is run in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and is available to an ornithologist who is making a significant contribution to the field.
The award was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony hosted by BTO and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) at the Mall Gallery in London.
Francis Daunt leads the seabird research programme at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). Seabirds are one of the most internationally important components of the UK avifauna and their abundance is affected by fisheries, climate change, pollution and other anthropogenic factors. Francis’s research is essential for achieving good understanding of the factors affecting seabird abundance and for providing the information that is needed to underpin population management.
Dr Daunt said, “It’s a great privilege to receive this prestigious award from the Marsh Christian Trust. Seabirds have iconic status with the general public and it’s critical that scientific evidence underpins conservation efforts given the current threats to their populations.
"I am delighted to have contributed to this, and this award also recognises the work of everyone in the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology team and the long legacy of seabird research on the Isle of May.”
Dr Daunt leads a key study at the Isle of May looking at five species of seabirds. The study has allowed the team to determine relationships between environmental conditions, food availability, demography and populations numbers, and is providing the basis of studying a wide range of aspects of sea ecology.
The team has published important research findings on including effects of weather, fisheries and marine renewables on survival and population dynamics, movements during the non-breeding season, synchrony in reproductive phenology and breeding success, the impact of parasites and the development of foraging behaviour.
The work extends to marine ecology and is of great relevance in the light of the development of marine renewables and the establishment of Marine Protected areas.
In addition Dr Daunt has undertaken a highly innovative project in collaboration with Jane Reid of Aberdeen University, which has attracted the help of many volunteers. The project involves resighting Shags marked at colonies in the north east of Scotland to determine the survival and reproductive success rates of birds away from colonies.
Dr Francis Daunt leads the seabird research programme at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, where he has worked as a seabird ecologist since 2001. During the 1990s he worked as a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey and then undertook his PhD research at the University of Glasgow on age specific reproductive performance in Shags.
The Marsh Award for Ornithology is available for an ornithologist who is making a significant contribution to the field, typically someone who gained a PhD between ten and twenty years prior to the award being made. Amongst other things the panel will consider the significance of the research undertaken so far, contributions to training and capacity-building within ornithology, alignment with the BTO’s mission and engagement with the wider ornithological community. The value of the prize is £1,000.