Species Science Manager

About me

After a BSc (Hons) degree at the University of Leicester, I joined the Wildfowl Trust (as it then was) in 1977 as a Research Assistant to the Bewick’s Swan study. The work involved recording the presence/absence, associations and behaviour of individual swans wintering at Slimbridge, with observations made from Sir Peter Scott’s studio window. During summer months during the late 1970s I also studied the breeding behaviour of Black-headed Duck (an obligate parasitic breeder), and in the evenings volunteered with the Trust’s aviculture team. My PhD on the Bewick’s Swans’ migration phenology was awarded by Bristol University in 1988. I am now Species Science Manager at WWT, have published numerous scientific papers, books/book chapters and reports, and disseminated research results more widely through presentations and numerous popular articles.


Studying the behaviour, ecology and dynamics of migratory swans and geese, to understanding factors affecting their population trends, distribution and feeding ecology. I have promoted international research programmes along migration routes, including developing the collaborative study of the Icelandic Whooper Swan population, and the Anglo-Russian study of Bewick’s Swan breeding biology. From 1994–2001, I was Chair of the Wetlands International/IUCN-SSC Swan Specialist Group, and reprised this role from 2014–present. I have also served on the Scottish Executive’s Goose Science Advisory Group (from 1999–2011), the NERC peer-review college (from 2008–2011) and am currently Coordinator of the Bewick’s Swan Expert Group. Since 2006 I have been Editor of WWT’s scientific journal Wildfowl. I have supervised 4 PhD, 3 MSc and several undergraduate research programmes, and been responsible for managing grant/contract work, including tracking swans in relation to offshore wind farms for COWRIE Ltd and for DECC.


  • Handling and analysing large datasets
  • Paper reviewing and editorial work
  • Experience of undertaking fieldwork in the UK, Iceland, and Arctic Russia
  • Catching swans for ringing
  • Making behavioural observations of swans
  • Habitat assessments


For full list see my Google Scholar profile

Beekman, J., Koffijberg, K., Wahl, J., Kowallik, C., Hall, C., Devos, K., Clausen, P., Hornman, M., Laubek, B., Luigujõe, L., Wieloch, M., Boland, H., Švažas, S., Nilsson, L., Stīpniece, A., Keller, V., Gaudard, C., Degen, A., Shimmings, P., Larsen, B.H., Portolou, D., Langendoen, T., Wood, K.A. & Rees, E.C. (2019). Long-term population trends and shifts in distribution for Bewick’s Swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii wintering in northwest Europe. Wildfowl, Special Issue No. 5, 73–102. .

Wood, K.A., Nuijten, R.J., Newth, J.L., Haitjema, T., Vangeluwe, D., Ioannidis, P., Harrison, A.L., Mackenzie, C., Hilton, G.M., Nolet, B.A. & Rees, E.C. (2018). Apparent survival of an Arctic‐breeding migratory bird over 44 years of fluctuating population size. Ibis, 160, 413–430.

Wood, K.A., Ponting, J., D'Costa, N., Newth, J.L., Rose, P.E., Glazov, P. & Rees, E.C. (2017). Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of aggressive behaviour in waterbird assemblages: a meta-analysis. Animal Behaviour, 126, 209–216.

Rees, E.C. (2012). Impacts of wind farms on swans and geese: a review. Wildfowl 62: 37–72.

Rees, E. (2006). Bewick’s Swan. T & A.D. Poyser, London.