João L. Guilherme

I enjoy watching birds and studying their amazing migrations. I am a biologist with a background in conservation and ecology and had the opportunity to collaborate with different projects in Portugal, Africa and Central Asia. I am particularly interested in animal movement, the role of common species in modified ecosystems and conservation biogeography.



PhD thesis [completed]: Informing conservation of African-Eurasian migratory landbirds, raptors, and storks using tracking data

African-Eurasian migratory landbirds, raptors, and storks face a suite of anthropogenic threats across their ranges and, as a result, many populations of these species are declining and need urgent conservation. However, the conservation of these birds is challenging, requiring the cooperation of all  countries linked by their movements and a sound understanding of their spatial and temporal distributions across the annual cycle.

In this thesis, I took a multispecies approach, and compiled and synthesized information from existing data of birds tracked along the flyway for establishing a baseline to inform international conservation efforts. More specifically, my objectives were to better understand the spatial and temporal distributions of African-Eurasian migratory landbirds, raptors, and storks during the non-breeding season, investigate their connectivity patterns between the breeding and non-breeding grounds, and identify priorities for future research, conservation action, and international cooperation.

In Chapter 1, I reviewed the tracking literature to synthesize current knowledge on the connectivity established between countries by African-Eurasian migratory landbirds and raptors. Then, I identify the main knowledge gaps and suggest priorities for future tracking efforts, and highlight important cooperation opportunities based on shared conservation priorities among countries.

In Chapter 2, I compiled existing tracking data from an extensive network of collaborators to build a new tracking dataset of African-Eurasian migratory landbirds, raptors, and storks, as a basis for analyses to inform international conservation. All data was standardized to make them comparable and tracks classified into phenological periods.

In Chapter 3, I combined the tracking data compiled in Chapter 2 with data on population size, and developed a multispecies indicator to map the relative importance of different areas, ecoregions and countries for African-Eurasian migratory landbirds, raptors and storks during the nonbreeding season.

Globally, this thesis emphasizes the value of tracking data in informing international conservation, and highlights the need to synthesize existing tracking data into policy-relevant products.


Guilherme, J.L., Jones, V.R.,  Catry, I., Beal, M., Dias, M.P., Oppel, S., Vickery, J.A., Hewson, C.M., Butchart, S.H.M., Rodrigues, A.S.L. (in press) Connectivity between countries established by landbirds and raptors migrating along the African-Eurasian flyway. Conservation Biology. Access repository


Guilherme, J.L. (2022) A database of migration records between countries established by African-Eurasian migratory landbirds and raptors. Access Repository


See interview by BirdLife Magazine



Academic Host

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Montpellier, France
Ana Rodrigues


BirdLife International
Cambridge, UK
Vicky Jones
Maria Dias
Stu Butchart
Instituto Superior de Agronomia
Lisbon, Portugal
Inês Catry


Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Sandy, UK

Juliet Vickery
Member of Student Thesis Committee
 Steffen Oppel
  British Trust for Ornithology
Thetford, UK
Chris Hewson
Member of Student Thesis Committee