There is a growing body of evidence that several species of ground nesting birds of conservation concern are being limited by predation (Roos et al. 2012). Predation operates during the breeding season to reduce nest and/or chick survival and means that many populations are failing to produce the number of young necessary for stable or increasing populations. Reducing the impacts these mammal predators have on ground nesting birds is critical to achieve sustainable populations.
Solutions to this conservation problem have historically focused on lethal control or exclusion of predators. However, lethal control and predator exclusion are intensive, expensive and their long-term sustainability is questionable. Furthermore, there are a number of possible knock-on effects from management of predators:
In addition, these approaches are difficult to apply at the required landscape-scale. However, recent research has shown that certain aspects of landscape management can result in lower nest predation rates. Hence, further work into the effect of landscape management on predator spatial use and foraging and predation risk/rates may help to find more long-term, non-lethal, sustainable solutions to aid conservation objectives in these landscapes.
The overall aim is to understand how wild mammalian predators use landscapes where conservation action for declining species is occurring but the activities of predators currently limits the success of that conservation action. Our objective is to find long-term, sustainable solutions to aid conservation objectives in these landscapes.
To address this we aim to:
This information should allow us to determine the effects of existing conservation management on these mammal predators. New insights into the lives of these mammals may allow us to adapt existing conservation management or develop landscape-scale management strategies that reduce the impacts of these predators on the species we are trying to conserve.
Dr Dawn Scott
Dr Bryony Tolhurst
Dr Jennifer Smart
To follow when project is completed
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)