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Impacts of Modern Agriculture on Birds

7 March, 2022 @ 7:30 pm 9:00 pm

Professor Ian Newton OBE FRS FRSE


This talk will discuss the major changes in agriculture that have occurred in Britain since the mid-20th century, and the effects of these changes on bird populations. Crucial changes have included the massively increased use of pesticides and fertilisers, the switch from spring-sown to autumn-sown arable crops, the increasing growth of silage, and the loss of mixed farms due to increasing specialisation. The majority of bird species that live on farmland have declined over recent decades, some by more than 90%. Causal factors include the loss of habitats and food-supplies, and the greater destruction of nests and chicks within crops

Professor Ian Newton OBE, FRS, FRSE is an ornithologist with a particular interest in the things that limit bird numbers, with research at different times on seed-eating birds, waterfowl and birds-of-prey. Throughout his working life, he was employed by the Natural Environment Research Council, and for many years he was head of a unit at Monks Wood Research Station which studied the effects of pesticides and pollutants on birds. He has authored eight books on different aspects of avian biology, and published more than 300 papers in the scientific literature. He has also served as President of the British Ecological Society and the British Ornithologists’ Union, and as Chairman of the Royal Society for Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology.

Before retirement, he was Senior Ornithologist at the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council. He has also been head of the Avian Biology Section at the Monks Wood Research Station (1989–2000), Chairman of the Board of The Peregrine Fund, Chairman of the Council of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and visiting professor of ornithology at the University of Oxford. Newton has also held the positions of President of the British Ornithologists’ Union and the British Ecological Society (1994–1995).

This is a Joint Lecture with the Natural History Section

How to attend the lecture

Seats at the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery (New Walk) are restricted in order to maintain social distancing.  It is also possible to attend the lecture by Zoom. 

Members of the Leicester Lit&Phil (including members of the Natural History Section)

Members of the Lit&Phil and Natural History Section have been sent an email giving details of how to attend both using Zoom and in-person.  Members may reserve seats in the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery by clicking on the “going” button below.


Those who are not members of the Society can book tickets for £5 (or £3 for students) using EventBrite:

53 New Walk
Leicester, LE1 7EA United Kingdom
+44 (0)116 225 4900
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