Animal Population Ecologist
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh, UK
Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahBurthe
Involved with the BOU as:
IBIS associate editor; Committee member (Engagement committee)
BOU member since: 2016
Most likely to be found . . .
. . . Ringing and observing Shags, analysing vast amounts of amazing individual based data, running up hills with my dogs.
What does being an IBIS associate editor involve?
This involves reading submissions, carefully selecting expert reviewers who are able to constructively critique manuscripts, reading reviewer responses and deciding on whether or not manuscripts are suitable for publication in IBIS.
What do you enjoy most about being an IBIS associate editor?
Reading interesting manuscripts from an exciting area of science. I deal with manuscripts that consider parasites and disease in avian populations and it is always enjoyable reading papers on this topic.
What would you say to anyone who is considering submitting a paper to IBIS?
I would say that you should go for it. IBIS is a well- read, quality scientific journal publishing excellent and cutting-edge avian research. Not only that but the journal is hugely successful at promoting papers on social media, thus ensuring good coverage and exposure of your research.
Why are you a member of the BOU?
I am a member of the BOU because I strongly believe that the organisation does an incredible amount of good work in promoting avian research through its excellent journal IBIS and via conferences. Membership makes me part of a huge community of ornithologists, and you get discounted rates for the most excellent BOU conferences!
If you’ve attended a BOU conference, what did you get out of it?
BOU conferences are really friendly, providing a supportive environment for presenting work, which means lots of excellent early career presentations and stimulating science. Not only did I find the level of science presented to be exceptionally high, but I also greatly enjoyed mentoring at the early careers events and socialising with lots of lovely people doing exciting research.
When did your interest in ornithology begin?
I’ve always been interested in all wildlife (apparently my first word was “cheetah”!!) but my interest really flourished when I was lucky enough to undertake my Zoology degree at Aberdeen University. I studied (and still do study) mammal disease ecology before taking the job at CEH working on the Isle of May seabirds.
What is your most memorable bird-y experience?
I did an internship at an incredible raptor migration centre in the USA called HawkMountain when I finished my degree. They took us up to some amazing wetlands in New Jersey where we watched thousands of Snowgeese rising up from the water at dawn- it was a breath-taking sight, with all their wings tinged pink in the early morning light. I’ll never forget it. To top it off we then saw Black Skimmers feeding along the shore- one of my favourite birds.
What is your favourite outdoor place and why?
The west coast of Scotland- dramatic mountains, white-sandy beaches, remote and wild walking where you can walk all day and not see a soul. Beautiful.
What do you predict to be the future big research areas in ornithology?
If you could visit anywhere in the world, that you haven’t yet been to, where would it be and why?
I’m going to say India because I am about to start a new and exciting project there investigating ecological reservoirs of wildlife diseases that are having big impacts on human health. I’ve never been to Asia before and am extremely excited about working in such a vibrant and interesting place.
What are the big conservation challenges in the next decade?
Human population rise- this is the biggest threat and one that we need to start having difficult conversations about.
It’s not particularly about birds for me- more about exciting ecology and interesting research- but I work on birds because I am interested in the effects of parasitism on hosts, and also on understanding links between migration and fitness, and birds are excellent to study for addressing these questions.
What are your interests outside the world of ornithology?
I’m interested in all wildlife and in conservation. I also love running, hill-walking, playing the fiddle and being creative (I love to paint and draw).