442 research outputs found

    Territorial status and survival in red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus: hope for the doomed surplus?

    Get PDF
    A previous study of survival in territorial and non-territorial red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus conducted between 1957 and 1967 found that territorial status in the autumn pre-determined over-winter survival. A very high proportion of territorial birds survived and virtually all non-territorial birds died or emigrated. We tested the hypothesis that over-winter survival was dependent on territorial status within four grouse populations in Scotland between 1986 and 1993. In contrast to the previous study, 66% of non-territorial birds survived over winter, compared to approximately 70% of territorial birds. There was no significant effect of territorial status on the survival estimates. Moreover, some of the birds considered to be non-territorial during autumn went on to successfully raise a brood. We suggest that on our study sites, territory ownership in autumn did not greatly influence over-winter survival, and territorial behaviour did not determine breeding density as previously supposed. We postulate differences with other studies may reflect variations in scale and predation pressure

    City life makes females fussy : sex differences in habitat use of temperate bats in urban areas

    Get PDF
    Urbanization is a major driver of the global loss of biodiversity; to mitigate its adverse effects, it is essential to understand what drives species' patterns of habitat use within the urban matrix. While many animal species are known to exhibit sex differences in habitat use, adaptability to the urban landscape is commonly examined at the species level, without consideration of intraspecific differences. The high energetic demands of pregnancy and lactation in female mammals can lead to sexual differences in habitat use, but little is known of how this might affect their response to urbanization. We predicted that female Pipistrellus pygmaeus would show greater selectivity of forging locations within urban woodland in comparison to males at both a local and landscape scale. In line with these predictions, we found there was a lower probability of finding females within woodlands which were poorly connected, highly cluttered, with a higher edge : interior ratio and fewer mature trees. By contrast, habitat quality and the composition of the surrounding landscape were less of a limiting factor in determining male distributions. These results indicate strong sexual differences in the habitat use of fragmented urban woodland, and this has important implications for our understanding of the adaptability of bats and mammals more generally to urbanization.Publisher PDFPeer reviewe

    Breeding losses of red grouse in Glen Esk (NE Scotland): Comparative studies, 30 years on

    Get PDF
    Hatching success, brood survival and predation rates of red grouse chicks were examined at four sites in north-east Scotland over two years (1994--1995). Two of these sites have previously been the focus of a large-scale population study on grouse during the late 1950s enabling a comparison to be made. A total of 85 hens were radio-tracked and their breeding success monitored over the two years. Compared with studies undertaken in the 1950s, mean clutch size had risen from 7.2 to 8.6 eggs. Of the 76 nests monitored, 17 (22.4%) broods were lost either through egg or chick predation or by the adult being taken by a predator during incubation. Stoats appeared to be responsible for the largest amount of egg predation. There was a significant increase in predation levels, although hatching success was not significantly different from the 1950s. Chick mortality was highest within the first ten days, a similar result to that found in the 1950s. Overall, mean brood survival from hatching to 20 days was 55.1%. Possible reasons for larger clutch sizes, and the apparent increase in predation levels, are discussed

    Experimental Evidence for the Effect of Small Wind Turbine Proximity and Operation on Bird and Bat Activity

    Get PDF
    The development of renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines forms a vital part of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Although large wind farms generate the majority of wind energy, the small wind turbine (SWT, units generating <50 kW) sector is growing rapidly. In spite of evidence of effects of large wind farms on birds and bats, effects of SWTs on wildlife have not been studied and are likely to be different due to their potential siting in a wider range of habitats. We present the first study to quantify the effects of SWTs on birds and bats. Using a field experiment, we show that bird activity is similar in two distance bands surrounding a sample of SWTs (between 6-18 m hub height) and is not affected by SWT operation at the fine scale studied. At shorter distances from operating turbines (0-5 m), bat activity (measured as the probability of a bat "pass" per hour) decreases from 84% (71-91%) to 28% (11-54%) as wind speed increases from 0 to 14 m/s. This effect is weaker at greater distances (20-25 m) from operating turbines (activity decreases from 80% (65-89%) to 59% (32-81%)), and absent when they are braked. We conclude that bats avoid operating SWTs but that this effect diminishes within 20 m. Such displacement effects may have important consequences especially in landscapes where suitable habitat is limiting. Planning guidance for SWTs is currently lacking. Based on our results we recommend that they are sited at least 20 m away from potentially valuable bat habitat

    The neonicotinoid insecticide thiacloprid impacts upon bumblebee colony development under field conditions

    Get PDF
    The impacts of pesticides, and in particular of neonicotinoids, on bee health remain much debated. Many studies describing negative effects have been criticised as the experimental protocol did not perfectly simulate real-life field scenarios. Here, we placed free-flying bumblebee colonies next to raspberry crops that were either untreated or treated with the neonicotinoid thiacloprid as part of normal farming practice. Colonies were exposed to the raspberry crops for a two week period before being relocated to either a flower-rich or flower-poor site. Overall, exposed colonies were more likely to die prematurely, and those that survived reached a lower final weight and produced 46% fewer reproductives than colonies placed at control farms. The impact was more marked at the flower-rich site (all colonies performed poorly at the flower poor site). Analysis of nectar and pollen stores from bumblebee colonies placed at the same raspberry farms revealed thiacloprid residues of up to 771ppb in pollen and up to 561ppb in nectar. The image of thiacloprid as a relatively benign neonicotinoid should now be questioned

    Niches for Species, a multi-species model to guide woodland management: An example based on Scotland's native woodlands

    Get PDF
    Designating and managing areas with the aim of protecting biodiversity requires information on species distributions and habitat associations, but a lack of reliable occurrence records for rare and threatened species precludes robust empirical modelling. Managers of Scotland’s native woodlands are obliged to consider 208 protected species, which each have their own, narrow niche requirements. To support decision-making, we developed Niches for Species (N4S), a model that uses expert knowledge to predict the potential occurrence of 179 woodland protected species representing a range of taxa: mammals, birds, invertebrates, fungi, bryophytes, lichens and vascular plants. Few existing knowledge-based models have attempted to include so many species. We collated knowledge to define each species’ suitable habitat according to a hierarchical habitat classification: woodland type, stand structure and microhabitat. Various spatial environmental datasets were used singly or in combination to classify and map Scotland’s native woodlands accordingly, thus allowing predictive mapping of each species’ potential niche. We illustrate how the outputs can inform individual species management, or can be summarised across species and regions to provide an indicator of woodland biodiversity potential for landscape scale decisions. We tested the model for ten species using available occurrence records. Although concordance between predicted and observed distributions was indicated for nine of these species, this relationship was statistically significant in only five cases. We discuss the difficulties in reliably testing predictions when the records available for rare species are typically low in number, patchy and biased, and suggest future model improvements. Finally, we demonstrate how using N4S to synthesise complex, multi-species information into an easily digestible format can help policy makers and practitioners consider large numbers of species and their conservation needs

    Bat use of commercial coniferous plantations at multiple spatial scales: Management and conservation implications

    Get PDF
    Commercial plantations are primarily managed for timber production, and are frequently considered poor for biodiversity, particularly for mammalian species. Bats, which constitute one fifth of mammal species worldwide, have undergone large declines throughout Europe, most likely due to widespread habitat loss and degradation. Bat use of modified landscapes such as urban or agricultural environments has been relatively well studied, however, intensively managed plantations have received less attention, particularly in Europe. We assessed three of the largest, most intensively managed plantations in the UK for the occurrence of bats, activity levels and relative abundance in response to environmental characteristics at multiple spatial scales, using an information theoretic approach. We recorded or captured nine species;Pipistrellus pipistrellusandP.pygmaeuswere the most commonly recorded species on acoustic detectors and femaleP.pygmaeuswere the most commonly captured. The influence of environmental characteristics on bat activity varied by species or genus, although all bat species avoided dense stands. Occurrence and activity of clutter and edge adapted species were associated with lower stand densities and more heterogeneous landscapes whereas open adapted bats were more likely to be recorded at felled stands and less likely in areas that were predominantly mature conifer woodland. In addition, despite morphological similarities,P.pipstrellusandP.pygmaeuswere found foraging in different parts of the plantation. This study demonstrates that with sympathetic management, non-native conifer plantations may have an important role in maintaining and supporting bat populations, particularly forPipistrellusspp

    Fodder crop management benefits Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) outside agri-environment schemes

    Get PDF
    To date, agri-environment schemes (AES) have had limited success in reversing biodiversity loss over greater spatial extents than fields and farms, and vary widely in their cost-effectiveness. Here, over nine years, we make use of the management initiative of a farmer in an upland livestock farming landscape in Scotland, undertaken wholly outside AES, to examine its effect on breeding densities of Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. Management designed by the farmer involved planting a Brassica fodder crop for two consecutive years followed by reseeding with grass, with eight out of 17 fields at the farm undergoing this management since 1997. After controlling for other habitat parameters of importance, the density of breeding Lapwings was 52% higher in fields that had undergone fodder crop management than those that had not. Densities were highest in the first year after the fodder crop was planted, prior to reseeding with grass, but remained above levels in control fields for approximately seven years after the fodder crop was last planted. Very high Lapwing densities (modelled density = 1 pair ha-1) in the year after the fodder crop was planted likely result from the heterogeneous ground surface created by grazing of the crop providing an “attractive” nesting habitat. Continued high densities following reseeding with grass may partly be accounted for by philopatry, but the fact that they are field-specific also suggests that these fields continue to offer enhanced foraging conditions for several years. Fodder crop management was implemented at the study site to fatten lambs over winter and ultimately improve grass condition for grazing. This system is therefore based on active farming and benefits both the farmer and breeding Lapwings. As such, it may be possible to implement it more widely without the need for high agri-environment payments. More generally, it is an example of the land owner being actively involved in developing conservation solutions in partnership with environmental research, rather than being seen as a passive recipient of knowledge as has typically been the case with the design of AES. Such approaches need to be adopted more consistently in designing interventions for environmental outcomes on farmland, but may be of particular importance in the UK if the certainties of European Union AES are to come to an end

    Exploring how greenspace programmes might be effective in supporting people with problem substance use: a realist interview study

    Get PDF
    Background: Greenspace programmes are health projects run outside in nature, typically with the aim of improving mental health. Research suggests that programmes may also be effective in supporting people with problem substance use (PSU), but there is limited understanding of the key components that make them successful for this client group. Previous work has claimed that a realist-informed intervention framework for greenspace programmes for mental health could be transferable to programmes that support people with PSU, and that this could provide insight into the causal processes within programmes. However, this claim is yet to be explored in depth. The aim of this study was to further test, refine, and consolidate the proposed framework to show how greenspace programmes could support people with PSU. Methods: Using a realist approach, 17 participants (8 programme staff; 9 wider stakeholders) were interviewed about contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes (CMOs) relative to greenspace programmes for mental health and PSU. Semi-structured interviews were used since they facilitated exploration of the proposed framework but were flexible enough to allow identification of new CMOs for framework refinement. Interviews were audio-recorded, fully transcribed , and analysed inductively and deductively against the proposed framework. Results: Findings supported the proposed framework and indicated that greenspace programmes support people with poor mental health and PSU due to: feelings of escape; space to reflect; physical activity; self-efficacy; feelings of purpose; relationships; and shared experiences. However, data showed that programmes must also consider: explicit intervention focus to ensure adequate support for clients; existing challenges with funding and stakeholder buy-in; and the impact of COVID-19. Findings allowed development of a refined framework that shows how greenspace programmes can support people with PSU. Conclusion: The findings of this project are theoretically novel and have practical relevance for those designing greenspace programmes by providing recommendations on how to optimise, tailor, and implement future interventions. Findings could be particularly relevant for academic researchers, multidisciplinary health professionals, and for those working in the third sector, developing and delivering greenspace programmes for people to improve their mental health and to support them with PSU

    How important are different non-native conifers in Britain to Common Crossbills Loxia curvirostra curvirostra?

    Get PDF
    Capsule Pines physically defend their seeds against seed-eating birds and mammals more than spruces or larches. Cone characteristics reflect the rate at which Common Crossbills Loxia curvirostra curvirostra extract seeds from different non-native conifers in Britain. Aims To assess the profitability of different non-native conifers in Britain for Common Crossbills in winter. Methods We measured cone and seed parameters of conifers (Norway Spruce Picea abies, Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis, Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta and Japanese Larch Larix kaempferi) introduced into Britain and compared these with the native Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris. Feeding trials with captive Common Crossbills assessed intake rates. Results The pines had thick and long scales, Japanese Larch had thin, short scales but thick seed coats and Sitka Spruce had thin, papery and short scales, and the thinnest seed coat. The two spruce species had more seeds per cone and the kernels had a higher energy content than the pines and larch. Feeding trials, simulating cones in winter, found that Common Crossbills failed to access seeds in closed Scots Pine cones. They also had difficulty in prising the scales of closed Lodgepole Pine cones but were able to forage on partially open cones. They took longer to extract seeds from large, open Lodgepole Pine cones than small ones, reflecting the effect of increasing scale thickness in larger pine cones. They also took longer to extract Lodgepole Pine seeds than Sitka Spruce and larch seeds. Although Common Crossbills could extract seeds quickly from open Sitka Spruce cones, the small seed size made the energy intake rate similar to Japanese Larch, if all seeds contained a kernel. However, after accounting for the proportion of seeds with a kernel, Sitka Spruce was the more profitable. Conclusion The conifer food resource for crossbills in Britain has changed through the planting of non-native conifers. The physical properties of the cones and seeding phenology influence the rate at which Common Crossbills can extract seeds
    corecore