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Livestock grazing and trampling of birds' nests: An experiment using artificial nests

Mandema, F. S., Tinbergen, J. M., Ens, B. J. & Bakker, J. P., Sep-2013, In : Journal of Coastal Conservation. 17, 3, p. 409-416 8 p.

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The purpose of this study is to experimentally determine the differences between four grazing treatments on the trampling of nests. Additionally, we examine to what extent the trampling probability of nests is higher close to a source of fresh water. We compare the trampling of artificial nests in five different grazing treatments in an experimental design. We use buried clay pigeon targets as artificial mimics of bird nests to obtain reliable estimates of trampling risk and compare these with real nests. We find that horses trample significantly more artificial nests than cattle resulting in lower survival rates of artificial nests under horse grazing than under cattle grazing. For both horses and cattle, we find a clear trend, approaching significance, towards more trampling at higher numbers of livestock. We found that more artificial nests are trampled closer to a freshwater tank. The survival probability of artificial nests in cattle grazed treatments in this study is found to be in the same range as real nests in the study area and very close to the survival probability of Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) nests under cattle grazing in a different system. We recommend that horses should not be used as grazers for management purposes in areas with high densities of birds' nests in order to minimize the risk of nests being trampled. Additionally, we confirm that the location of freshwater tanks has an important effect on the distribution of livestock and hence on trampling of nests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-416
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
Volume17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2013

    Keywords

  • Cattle, Grazing treatments, Ground breeding, Horse, Salt marsh, Wader, SIMULATED GROUND NESTS, REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS, COASTAL MEADOWS, CATTLE, PREDATION, HABITAT, MANAGEMENT, PASTURES, DENSITY, HORSES

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