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The Scottish Government uses research to support policy development and inform recommendations to Ministers. Projects undertaken cover a wide range of issues relating to the marine and terrestrial environment and are often conducted in partnership with other organisations, including Fisheries Research Services (FRS), Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Below is a brief summary of some recent research projects fully or partially funded by the Scottish Government.


Pilot study into foraging ranges of breeding red-throated divers

10 special protection areas (SPAs) have been classified in Scotland for the nesting territories of red-throated divers Gavia stellata (which are listed on Annex 1 of the EC Wild Birds Directive). Feeding is carried out at sea by most of these birds and this has historically been assumed to take place in the inshore waters adjacent to the nesting mainland peat land and offshore island localities. This study aims to research the feasibility of more accurately identifying feeding areas for the species during the breeding season

short eared owlDevelopment of survey methodology for Short-Eared Owls

Four SPAs have been identified as breeding sites within Scotland (six in the UK) for the short-eared owl Asio flammeus (listed in Annex 1 of the EC Wild Birds Directive). Due to difficulties in carrying out surveys for this owl, only limited information on breeding populations is currently available

This pilot project aims to develop a survey method to improve estimates of the national population and help to further understand population distribution and fluctuations over time.


Counting Scottish Crossbills - testing methods and pilot survey

The Scottish Crossbill is listed on Annex 1 of the EC Wild Birds Directive and is aqualifying feature of five SPAs in Scotland. The research has been conducted jointly with the Statutory Conservation Agencies and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Breeding Bird Survey programme (SCARABBS) to perform a census.

Genetic Diversity in Scottish Populations of Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus

This project aims to establish the genetic diversity of six separate metapopulations of capercaillie (listed in Annex 1 of the EC Wild Birds Directive) in Scotland, the results of which could assist in the management of the national population.

Coastline. Copyright Lorne Gill/SNH

Research Strategy to Support Phase III of SSMEI Pilots

The Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI) was launched in November 2002 with the aim of developing new management framework options, the benefits of sustainable management and the application of the ecosystem approach to Scotland's marine environment. Further information is available on SSMEI pages.

Cetaceans and seals

Brief summary of current Scottish Government funded research on cetaceans and seals (seal management and diet composition, cetacean bycatch).