My life-long fascination with the natural world and how we interact with it led me to undertake a degree in Geography at the University of Southampton. Enjoying the sciences and the arts in equal measure, the flexibility of the course enabled me to indulge in a variety of disciplines from philosophy to oceanography. I was fortunate enough to have opportunities to study the impacts of tourism on short-finned pilot whales in the Canary Islands and the behaviour of scarlet macaws in the Amazon. Being close to and observing these spectacular animals in their natural environment, and also seeing firsthand their homes under threat, had a profound impact on me, and I knew from there on that I wanted to work in conservation. The ethos of WWT really aligns with me – the conservation of wetlands, helping people to live sustainably alongside them and benefit from all those life-giving services that they offer, and inspiring people to connect with the natural world. It goes without saying that working in a beautiful wetland and among amazingly talented colleagues does wonders for the motivation!
I undertake ecosystem health work to understand and address threats to wild populations of wetland species and their habitats in the UK and overseas. Most recently, this has involved surveillance activities, research, advocacy and policy work for threats affecting populations of conservation concern, such as lead poisoning and illegal hunting. I engage with a range of stakeholders to bridge research, policy and public platforms and use social research to understand the human dimension of conservation issues in efforts to identify solutions for conservation conflicts. My work involves undertaking data analyses for publication in scientific peer-reviewed journals and writing reports, popular articles and guidance documents for many different audiences. Since 2004, I have been responsible for WWT’s long-term study of the Bewick’s swans at Slimbridge and actively promote WWT's conservation work in national and international media. I have been fortunate enough to have participated in and organised numerous international field work expeditions to study migratory swans in arctic Russia and Iceland. In 2016, I helped to support and co-ordinate more than 40 conservation activities across 11 countries for Flight of the Swans.
I am currently undertaking a part-time PhD with the University of Exeter and WWT entitled “Lead poisoning and illegal hunting of migratory waterbirds: from biological effects to conservation conflict”.
Newth, J.L., Rees, E.C., Cromie, R.L., McDonald, R.A., Bearhop, S., Pain, D.J., Norton, G.J., Deacon, C., Hilton, G.M. 2016. Widespread exposure to lead affects the body condition of free-living whooper swans Cygnus Cygnus wintering in Britain. Environmental Pollution 209: 60–67.
Newth, J.L., Cromie, R. & Kanstrup, N. 2015. Lead shot in Europe: conflict between hunters and conservationists. In: Redpath, S.M., Gutierrez, R.J., Wood, K.A. & Young, J.C. (eds) Conflicts in Conservation: Navigating towards solutions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 177–179.
Newth, J.L., Cromie, R.L., Brown, M.J., Delahay, R.J., Meharg A.A., Deacon, C., Norton, G. J., O’Brien, M.F. & Pain, D.J. 2012. Poisoning from lead gunshot: still a threat to wild waterbirds in Britain. European Journal of Wildlife Research 59: 195–204.
Newth, J.L., Brown, M.J. & Rees, E.C. 2011. Incident of embedded shotgun pellets in Bewick’s Swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii and Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus wintering in the UK. Biological Conservation 144: 1630–1637.
Cromie, R.L., Newth, J.L., Reeves, J.P., O’Brien, M.F., Beckmann, K.M. & Brown, M.J. 2015. The sociological and political aspects of reducing lead poisoning from ammunition in the UK: why the transition to non-toxic ammunition is so difficult. In: Delahay RJ, Spray CJ (eds). Proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium. Lead ammunition: understanding and minimising the risks to human and environmental health. Edward Grey Institute, The University of Oxford. pp 104-124. Available at: http://oxfordleadsymposium.info.
Cromie, R.L., Lee, R., Delahay, R.J., Newth, J.L., O’Brien, M.F., Fairlamb, H.A., Reeves, J.P. & Stroud, D.A. 2012. Ramsar Wetland Disease Manual: Guidelines for Assessment, Monitoring and Management of Animal Disease in Wetlands. Ramsar Technical Report No. 7. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland, Switzerland.
Pain, D.J., Cromie, R.L., Newth, J.L., Brown, M.J., Crutcher, E., Hardman, P., Hurst, L., Mateo, R., Meharg, A.A., Moran, A.C., Raab, A., Taggart, M.A. & Green, R. 2010. Potential hazard to human health from exposure to fragments of lead bullets and shot in the tissues of game animals. PLoS ONE 5(4). e10315. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010315
United Nations Environment Programme Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP-CMS). COP11/Inf.34. 2014a. Review of the ecological effects of poisoning on migratory birds.
Wood, K. A., Newth, J.L., Hilton, G.M., Nolet, B.A. & Rees, E.C. 2016. Inter-annual variability and long-term trends in breeding success in a declining population of migratory swans. Journal of Avian Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jav.00819
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.
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.