Testing the effects of recreational disturbance on two upland breeding waders

Dunlin (Calidris alpina) Science Article 7


Previous work has shown that Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria guarding chicks utilize heavily disturbed habitat at a lower rate than surrounding areas, but that such rates of avoidance are reduced when the movement of people is restricted to a surfaced footpath. However, there remained some unanswered questions, which are addressed in this paper. First, we examine to what extent habitat avoidance is dependent upon visitor numbers, and find no evidence that Golden Plovers avoided disturbed areas at a site where visitor pressure was half that previously studied. Secondly, we examine whether these relationships between habitat occupancy and disturbance apply to other upland waders and find that Dunlin Calidris alpina habitat utilization in disturbed areas showed a non-significant increase of approximately 50% following the provision of a surfaced footpath, in a manner similar to that observed for Golden Plover. Thirdly, we examine whether the large numbers of visitors (120 per weekend day) using the surfaced footpath impact on Golden Plover breeding success, despite the lack of habitat avoidance.

J. W. PEARCE-HIGGINS, S. K. FINNEY, D. W. YALDEN, R. H. W. LANGSTON, Ibis 149 (s1), 45-55

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