The effects of peatland restoration on the breeding and foraging of the European Nightjar

Lucy Ryan


Start Year: 2015, 2nd cohort

Host University: The University of York

Department: Environment

Supervisors: Dr Kathryn Arnold (University of York); Prof Piran White (University of York); Dr Alistair Darby (University of Liverpool); Dr Richard Smith (Natural England)

Twitter: @lucyjayneryan

lusy ryan

Academic profile


BSc (Hons) Environment Studies – First Class Honours, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2004 – 2007.

MRes Conservation and Resource Management – Distinction, University of Liverpool, 2012 – 2013.

Skills and relevant qualifications

I am a C- permit ringer, with endorsements for whoosh netting and gps-tags and have experience handling and ringing a wide variety of bird species.

I have a great deal of experience in practical habitat management and good knowledge of legislation and policy affecting land managers.

ACCE PhD Research topic

The effects of peatland restoration on the breeding and foraging of the European Nightjar

The European Nightjar is an ‘Amber’ listed species (Birds of Conservation Concern 4, 2015), which declined sharply until the late 1990s, but has recovered somewhat over the last 20 years. It is still sporadically and locally distributed according to appropriate habitat and it is a challenge to help them to expand their range and numbers by improving and restoring habitat. I will be investigating the effects of a significant peatland restoration project on the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve, which is EU LIFE+ funded and managed by the land owners, Natural England. The project aims to remove Silver birch and Rhododendron scrub and raise water levels in order to encourage the growth of bog-specific plants and to improve the area for invertebrates and their predators, Nightjars and other bird species. I will be using the latest miniature GPS tracking technology to obtain fine-scale data on Nightjar habitat use, along with Next Generation Sampling of faecal deposits in order to understand their diet in more detail. I will be sampling their main prey – Moths – with a series of portable light traps in order to associate their habitat use with the resources present. This project aims to build up a detailed picture of the ecology of the European Nightjar on this site and should have relevance for other studies of Nightjars in Europe but also studies of other bird species in a habitat management context.