Nigel Jarrett

Conservation Breeding Manager

Contact details

About me

I am a WWT-trained aviculturist and conservation breeding manager with 40 years’ experience. I have worked with more than 150 waterbird species in 17 countries. I am motivated to develop conservation breeding techniques to restore those animal and plant species which will be drivers for wider wetland conservation. I work with biologists whose fieldwork leads to effective species and ecosystem conservation action and zoo keepers and horticulturists whose practical skills can be used to boost the survival and the productivity of free-living populations of animal and plant species leading to species’ recovery and wetland conservation. Saving a species from extinction is not an end point for me - I aspire to restore species so they are ecologically functional across their range. I am inspired by the bravery of Rachael Carson, the vision of Peter Scott and the modus operandi of Carl Jones to save species in functioning ecosystems.

My role

Since 2009, I’ve been WWT’s Conservation Breeding Manager leading a small team to develop and apply conservation breeding techniques to species recovery projects. Our focus has been:

  1. To save the Critically Endangered Madagascar pochard from extinction by establishing a conservation breeding centre for the ducks in Madagascar, developing husbandry protocols to grow the population to more than 100 individuals and to design and undertake the ‘reintroduction’ in 2018.
  2. To develop and implement novel headstarting projects for the Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpiper in Russia (2011-present day) and red-listed black-tailed godwit (2017- present day) and curlew (2019-present day) in England to ensure up to five-fold increases in annual recruitment of young birds to declining populations.
  3. To reintroduce common cranes to south-west England, 400 years after the species’ extinction by conducting all the avicultural activities of the Great Crane Project, including egg translocation from Germany to Slimbridge and all rearing stages, resulting in the release of 96 fledged cranes on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Experience and interests

  • Project management for bird reintroductions including:
    • producing justification, feasibility and disease risk assessments to inform project design;
    • identifying infrastructure, equipment and staffing requirements to inform budget;
    • obtaining funds;
    • managing contracts;
    • creating infrastructure and procuring equipment;
    • recruiting and managing staff;
    • implementing the project; and
    • reporting.
  • Managing operational aspects of zoo collections including training staff and improving performance.
  • Field aviculture – how and when to parachute ‘appropriate feathery-fingered’ know-how into remote places to improve productivity of threatened bird species.
  • Familiarity with basic principles of carpentry, plumbing, building, ground-works, fencing
  • Thinking out the pond, i.e. seeing how things not designed for species conservation might be used in species conservation; for example, when might a fish cage be used as a floating aviary?


D.C. Deeming and N.S. Jarrett (2015). Applications of incubation science to aviculture and conservation in: Nests, Eggs, and Incubation. Edited by D. C. Deeming & S. J. Reynolds (2015). Oxford University Press, 196-207.

Martin, G.R., Jarrett, N. & M. Williams (2007) Visual fields in Blue Ducks Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos and Pink-eared Ducks Malacorhynchus membranaceus: visual and tactile foraging. Ibis, 149: 112-120

Batty, M., Jarrett, N.S., Forbes, N., Wright, L., Brown, M.J. Standley, S., Richardson, A.E, Oliver, S., Ireland B., Chalmers, K.P. & I. Fraser. (2006). Hand-rearing Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber roseus for translocation from WWT Slimbridge (UK) to Auckland Zoo (New Zealand). International Zoo Yearbook 40 (1): 261-270.

Jarrett, N.S., Mason, V., Wright, L. & V. Levassor (2003). Using egg density and egg mass techniques for incubation stage assessment to predict hatch dates of Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber roseus eggs. Wildfowl 55: 131-142

Kristiansen, J.N. & Jarrett, N.S. 2002. Inter-specific competition between Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris and Canada Geese Branta canadensis interior moulting in West Greenland: mechanisms and consequences. Ardea: 90: 1-13.

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