What effects do walkers and dogs have on the distribution and productivity of breeding European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus?

Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) Science Article 1


Several successive studies of European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus (hereafter, Nightjar) on the Dorset heaths demonstrated negative effects of the proximity of urban development and associated disturbance from access on foot by people and dogs. Surrogate measures of human density and settlement, including the amount of developed land around each heathland patch and the number of houses, were significantly and negatively related to the density of Nightjars (using data from the 1992 national survey) on heathland patches, regardless of patch size. These findings prompted targeted field studies, the subject of this paper, which investigated the mechanisms and effects of recreational disturbance on breeding Nightjars. Fieldwork in 2002 focused on a suite of heathland sites representing a range of access from sites closed to the public to heaths heavily used for recreation, notably by dog walkers. Studies in 2003 concentrated on the heavily used heaths. Nests which failed were significantly closer to paths, tended to be closer to the main points of access to heaths, in areas with higher footpath density, notably of high levels of use, and in more sparsely vegetated locations.

R. H. W. LANGSTON, D. LILEY, G. MURISON, E. WOODFIELD & R. T. CLARKE, Ibis 149 (s1), 27-36

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