Critical thresholds of disturbance by people and raptors in foraging wading birds

Goss-Custard, J.D.; Triplet, P.; Sueur, F.; West, A.D.. 2006 Critical thresholds of disturbance by people and raptors in foraging wading birds. Biological Conservation, 127 (1). 88-97.

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Intertidal areas support during the non-breeding season many wading birds Charadrii that may often take flight in response to the presence of people or of birds of prey on their intertidal feeding and roosting grounds. Disturbance can cause birds to spend energy flying away and to lose feeding time while relocating to different feeding areas, where the increased bird densities may intensify competition from interference and, if of sufficient duration, from prey depletion. Until now, there has been no method for establishing how frequently birds can be put to flight before their fitness is reduced. We show how individual-based behavioural models can establish critical thresholds for the frequency with which wading birds can be disturbed before they die of starvation. It uses oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus in the baie de Somme, France where birds were put to flight by disturbance up to 1.73 times/daylight hour. Modelling shows that the birds can be disturbed up to 1.0–1.5 times/h before their fitness is reduced in winters with good feeding conditions (abundant cockles Cerastoderma edule and mild weather) but only up to 0.2–0.5 times/h when feeding conditions are poor (scarce cockles and severe winter weather). Individual-based behavioural models enable critical disturbance thresholds to be established for the first time.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Population & Conservation Ecology
ISSN: 0006-3207
Format Availability: Electronic, Print
Additional Keywords: behaviour-based models, disturbance, Haematopus ostralegus, individual-based ecology, overwinter survival
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Jun 2007 14:35 +0 (UTC)

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