About me

A childhood of ‘rescuing’ wildlife and dissecting anything dead lead unsurprisingly to a Biology degree with a generous mix of ecology and microbiology. Being fascinated by wildlife health I was glad to be able undertake a PhD on vaccine development for wildfowl but it was early on in this that I could see that such ‘sticking plaster’ technologies are useful but not the solution. I’m interested in managing the ‘system’ to prevent ill-health and facilitating people to promote the healthy solution. In an increasingly disrupted and polluted environment I have (unfortunately) lived through wildlife health being an interesting aside for ecologists to a mainstream conservation issue. For someone wanting to make wetlands healthy for everyone and everything, WWT is a natural home although I have learnt much from stints at Hong Kong University, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park, DICE, Canterbury Christchurch College and Durrell.


I am privileged to manage the Ecosystem Health Unit team which aims to provide solutions for managing and promoting health in wetlands. This involves delivering across these skills sets:

  • Surveillance including for emerging and priority wetland diseases such as avian influenza (AI) and lead poisoning;
  • Research on specific diseases, on solutions such as constructed wetlands for pathogen removal, and more recent ventures into social science;
  • Advocacy for those in positions to be able to manage healthier environments e.g. trying to persuade shooters to use non-toxic ammunition, or producing guidance on principles and practices for managing health e.g. the Ramsar Wetland Disease Manual.
  • Policy, in particular via multilateral environmental agreements to e.g. reduce the threat of AI to wild and domestic birds, and reduce poisoning risks from anthropogenic sources of poison such as from lead ammunition.
  • Building capacity – training others, in particular post-graduates and practitioners, to promote health.

We also undertake the health risk analyses and health management for our conservation breeding and translocation projects. And recognising the value of wetlands to people’s physical and mental resilience we are making the case for wetlands via a programme of work on the benefits of wetlands to health and wellbeing.

I sit on the Ramsar Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel, am a member of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Preventing Poisoning Working Group and am Vice Chair of the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) Technical Committee.


  • Wildlife health
  • Waterbird conservation
  • Teaching, training, examining, general capacity building
  • Multilateral environmental agreements
  • Laboratory diagnostic and vaccine technologies
  • Project management
  • Fieldwork


Hansen, R., Brown, I., Brookes, S., Welchman, D., and Cromie, R. (2018). Current status of avian influenza in Europe and the UK. Vet. Rec. Volume 182: 2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.k128.PMID:29326393 Rowena Hansen

Duff, D., Neale, S., Cromie, R., Kerr, M., and Irvine, R. (2017). Suspected avian botulism outbreaks in wild waterbirds. Vet. Rec. 181: 179-180 doi: 10.1136/vr.j3829.APHA Woodham Lane, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB. More

O’Brien, M.F., K.M. Beckmann, N.S. Jarrett, G.M. Hilton, N.G. Carmichael and R.L. Cromie (2017). Blood biochemistry and haematology values of juvenile Eurasian cranes (Grus grus) raised in captivity for reintroduction. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 5(1): 38-47.

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.

O'Brien, M.F., Lee, R., Cromie, R. and Brown, M.J., (2016). Assessment of the rates of injury and mortality in waterfowl captured with 5 methods of capture and techniques for minimizing risks. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 30(2), J Wildl Dis. 52(2 Suppl):S86-95. pp.212-213. doi: 10.7589/52.2S.S86.

Chapman, J. R., Hellgren, O., Helin, A. S., Kraus, R. H., Cromie, R.L., & Waldenström, J. (2016). The evolution of innate immune genes: purifying and balancing selection on β-defensins in waterfowl. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 33(12), 3075-3087.

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.

Pain, D., Cromie, R., & Green, R. (2015). Lead poisoning of UK wildlife from ammunition-derived lead. In: Delahay, R.J. & Spray, C.J. (Eds.) (2015). The Oxford Lead Symposium. Lead Ammunition: understanding and minimising the risks to human and environmental health. Edward Grey Institute, Oxford University, UK. , pp 58-84. Available at: http://oxfordleadsymposium.info.

Cunningham A.A., Beckmann K., Perkins M., Fitzpatrick L., Cromie R., Redbond J., O'Brien M.F., Ghosh P., Shelton J., Fisher M.C. (2015). Emerging disease in UK amphibians, Vet. Rec. May 2;176(18):468. doi: 10.1136/vr.h2264.

Newth, J.L., Cromie, R.L. & Kanstrup, N. Lead shot in Europe: conflict between hunters and conservationists (2015). In: Conflicts in Conservation, Navigating Towards Solutions. Eds: S.M. Redpath, R.J. Gutiérrez, K.A. Wood & J.C. Young. Cambridge University Press. Pp 172-175.

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.

Lee, R., Cranswick, P.A., Cromie, R.L., Hilton, G.M., Jarrett, N.S. & Hughes, B. (2012). AEWA Guidelines for the Translocation of Waterbirds for Conservation Purposes: Complementing the IUCN Guidelines. AEWA Conservation Guidelines No. 13, AEWA Technical Series No. 49. Bonn, Germany.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (2012). Resolution XI.12 Wetlands and health: taking an ecosystem approach. pp17. [Drafted primarily by Pierre Horwitz, Max Finlayson and Ruth Cromie et al].

Cromie, R.L., R. Lee, R.J. Delahay, J. L. Newth, M.F. O’Brien, H.A. Fairlamb, J.P. Reeves & D.A. Stroud. (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. pp353. Available at: www.wwt.org.uk/rwdm

LEE, R., Stroud, D.A. and Cromie, R.L. (2012). Avian influenza and wetlands. In: Horwitz, P., Finlayson, M. and Weinstein, P. Healthy wetlands, healthy peo­ple: a review of wetlands and human health interactions. Ramsar Technical Report No. 6. Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Gland, Switzerland, & The World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. ISBN 2-940073-32-5. pp114.

Cromie, R.L. (2012). Avian tuberculosis. In: Infectious disease of wild mammals and birds in Europe. Ed: D. Gavier-Widen, J.P. Duff and A. Meredith. Wiley Blackwell Publishing. pp274-281. ISBN 978-1-4051-9905-6 pp 265-292.

Cromie, R., Davidson, N., Galbraith, C., Hagemeijer, W., Horwitz, P., Lee, R., Mundkur, T. & Stroud, D.A. (2011). Responding to emerging challenges: multi-lateral environmental agreements and avian influenza H5N1. Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy 14: 206-242. doi: 10.1080/13880292.2011.626711.

FOX, A.D., H. Boyd, A. Walsh, D.A. Stroud, J. Nyeland and R.L. Cromie (2011). Winter warming and habitat shifts in Iceland enable earlier spring migration amongst Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris without apparent costs to refuelling rates. Hydrobiologica. doi: 10.1007/s10750-012-1174-1.

Cromie, R., Loram, A., Hurst, L., O’Brien, M., Newth, J., Brown, M. & Harradine, J. 2010. Compliance with the environmental protection (Restrictions on Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999. Defra, Bristol. Available at: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=16075

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.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (2010). Avian influenza and wetlands: Guidance on control of and responses to highly pathogenic avian influenza. Ramsar handbooks for the wise use of wetlands, 4th edition, vol. 4. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland, Switzerland. Key contributors: David Stroud, Ruth Cromie, Rebecca Lee, Ward Hagemeijer, and Taej Mundkur. pp82.

DREWE, J., D. Mwangi, H. D. Donoghue and R.L. Cromie (2009). PCR analysis of presence and location of Mycobacterium avium in a constructed reed bed, with implications for avian tuberculosis control. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 67, pp 320-328.