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Our team

The BTO employs over 100 people through offices in England (Thetford), Wales (Bangor), Northern Ireland (Bangor N.I.) and Scotland (Stirling). The core team responsible for the managing Combined Ecology and delivering its service portfolio are listed below.

Phil Atkinson

Science Director Combined Ecology

+ 44 (0)1842 768 238
 LinkedIn profile ->

Phil is both Science Director of Combined Ecology and the BTO’s Head of International Research. He leads the BTO’s international research program, which is diverse in nature but has a strong emphasis on collaborative projects consisting of a mix of research and commercial (e.g. impact assessment) projects.

Phil joined the BTO in 1999 having achieved a PhD in Ecology. Recently his research has focused on a number of areas, such as:

  • understanding the impact of agricultural and poverty alleviation policies on provision of ecosystem services by biodiversity and farmer livelihoods in central Ugandan banana/coffee systems and the cocoa-based systems in Sao Tome e Principe;
  • developing a program of research on the ecology of Palearctic-African migrants on their wintering grounds (with current field projects in Ghana and Burkina Faso);
  • designing surveys and monitoring schemes for birds (e.g. reviewing and developing a new waterbirds monitoring scheme for AGIP/KCO in Kazakhstan);
  • undertaking impact assessments and recommending mitigation/compensation (e.g. Ralphs Bay marina development, Tasmania); and
  • research into how best to create and/or restore intertidal wetlands for waterbirds.

Phil says “much of BTO's science has been to provide pragmatic, evidence-based solutions to applied problems and the launch of Combined Ecology is an exciting opportunity to focus our work on commercial environments. With the backup of 50+ scientists, Combined Ecology has the ability to deliver innovative, state-of-the-art solutions to industry needs.”

Find out more about Phil

Ian Henderson

Senior Research Ecologist

+44(0)1842 750050


Ian works in the BTO's Terrestrial Ecology Unit as a Senior Research Ecologist. An experienced analyst and field ornithologist, Ian has diverse skills and interests in field and population ecology and bird monitoring. Research in the last 23 years has largely focused on farmland birds, but includes also forest management, population monitoring and issues relating to demography, predation and bird-habitat choice. His more recent work has included the use of tracking devices to look at the movements and habitat use of a range of bird species, from Goshawks and Buzzards through to Whinchats and Nightjars. Ian's skills have been used by Combined Ecology in recent International projects in Djibouti.

Find out more about Ian

Niall Burton

Head of Wetland and Marine Research

+44(0)1842 750050


Niall is Head of BTO’s Wetland and Marine Research Team, and has over 20 years of experience of research into waterbirds. Niall has been integral to a programme of research investigating the factors that affect waterbird and seabird populations and developed the recent BTO wetland and marine research strategy. Projects that he has managed or been involved in have included research on avoidance rates used in collision risk modelling, human disturbance, habitat loss and water quality, low tide surveys of the Severn Estuary, the 2003/04-2005/06 Winter Gull Roost Survey, the 2007 Breeding Plover Survey, research in relation to marine renewables and the delivery of the waterbirds topic paper for the Severn Tidal Power Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The team’s recent work programme has included research for DECC using tagging technology to investigate the interaction of seabirds with offshore wind farm developments and the provision of Strategic Ornithological Support Services to the offshore wind industry on behalf of The Crown Estate. His expertise has been used by Combined Ecology across a number of commercial projects. 

Find out more about Niall