Principal Research Officer, Species Science

About me

Ecologist working for WWT since 1999 with a keen interest in behavioural ecology (PhD in rook ecology, Durham), ornithology and botany and the application of remote sensing, drone and telemetry techniques to the challenges many species currently face and in the pursuit of immutable scientifically objective data collected by the organisms themselves. As such I am keenly involved with the design of technology, as for example GPS-GSM collar tags/leg mounts or custom nest-cameras, so that the data can be gathered with as little impact as possible upon the study species’ welfare. I enjoy the many challenges field research brings and will work across disciplines to try and find solutions to any problems encountered, whether it be in attempting to diagnose the causes of decline in a rare species or in terms of the habitat management techniques subsequently applied to their conservation.

Work

Out-posted Principal Research Officer based at WWT Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, Dumfries, Scotland; prime research interests include telemetry studies into various goose species such as Svalbard barnacle geese, Greenland white-fronted geese, taiga bean geese and Icelandic/Greenlandic pink-footed geese, with the broad aims of uncovering the life-history traits of declining species of conservation concern or elucidating their response to human infrastructural developments such as wind farm developments or climate change. Telemetry techniques have also been used in relation to Icelandic whooper swan and Bewick’s swan migration with regard primarily to onshore and offshore wind farm research. Much of this is UK based autumn and winter work, and in spring the Scottish breeding population of common scoter becomes a subject of intensive observational study as do the local populations of breeding waders, natterjack toad and rare tadpole shrimps, recently discovered on site, and one of only two extant sites in the UK.

Skills

  • Proficient in the use of telemetry techniques from collars, backpacks and leg mounts on geese, swans and cranes to geolocators on the leg rings of ducks
  • Licensed cannon-netter and “A” ringer; Long history of GIS use, e.g. QGIS having switched from ESRI products, the framing of relevant questions, practicalities, limitations and data needs
  • Excellent ornithology and botany identification skills – including moorland and aquatic macrophyte plant communities
  • Specialist advisor to BTO Special Methods Technical Panel with regard to bird tracking techniques
  • History of sound management of long-term projects and external contracts.

Selected Publications

Xin Wang, X., Cao, L., Fox, A.D., Fuller, R., Griffin, L., Mitchell, C., Zhao, Y., Moon, O-K., Cabot, D., Xu, Z., Batbayar, N., Kölzsch, A., van der Jeugd, H.P., Madsen, J., Chen, L. & Nathan, R. 2019. Stochastic simulations reveal few green wave surfing populations among spring migrating herbivorous waterfowl. Nature Communications 10: Article No. 2187.

Tombre, I.M., Oudman, T., Shimmings, P., Griffin, L. & Prop, J. 2019. Northward range expansion in spring-staging barnacle geese is a response to climate change and population growth, mediated by individual experience. Global Change Biology: DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14793

Weegman, M.D., Bearhop, S., Hilton, G.M., Walsh, A.J., Griffin, L., Resheff, H., Nathan, R. & Fox, A.D. 2017. Using accelerometry to compare costs of extended migration in an Arctic herbivore. Current Zoology 63:667-674.

Sellers, G.S., Griffin, L.R., Hänfling, B. & Gómez, A. 2017. A new molecular diagnostic tool for surveying and monitoring Triops cancriformis populations. PeerJ 5:e3228; DOI 10.7717/peerj.3228

Mitchell, C., Griffin, L., Maciver, A., Minshull, B. & Makan, N. 2016. Migration routes, stop-over locations and breeding area of Taiga Bean Geese Anser fabalis fabalis wintering in central Scotland. Bird Study 63: 437-446.