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Targeted conservation key to wading bird recovery

Wading birds (Haematopus_longirostris_-_Austins_Ferry)
Wading birds (Haematopus_longirostris_-_Austins_Ferry )
“The wader maps enable land managers and landowners to focus conservation activities to where they are likely to be most effective, i.e. where there are still viable populations, or suitable areas of habitat surrounded by areas with good populations of waders"

Over the past 25 years wading bird numbers have fallen dramatically in Scotland, with some species numbers being halved over this time period. Researchers from the James Hutton Institute are aiming to combat this decline by identifying locations where these iconic birds have the best chance to once again thrive.

Experts believe a key factor in the severe drop in wading bird numbers is down to habitat loss or alteration. The ever-changing landscape, along with the threat from general predators, has resulted in a lack of breeding.  

Species such as lapwings, oystercatchers and curlews could be lost forever if drastic measures are not put in place. The initiative Working for Waderswas formed to promote collaborative conservation efforts and resources. Through habitat management, wader sensitive farming practices and predator control, it is hoped wader decline can be halted or reversed.

By utilising Breeding Bird Atlas data, researchers from the James Hutton Institute hope to assist Working for Waders by mapping the wider landscape and identifying where wader populations have the best capacity to recover.

These maps display hot and cold spots, showing clearly changes in wader populations across Scotland. Dr Scott Newey, an applied ecologist at the Institute, said: “In collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithologyand other Working for Waders partners, we have produced maps to help identify areas where conservation measures can be best targeted.

“The wader maps enable land managers and landowners to focus conservation activities to where they are likely to be most effective, i.e. where there are still viable populations, or suitable areas of habitat surrounded by areas with good populations of waders.

“Whereas the hot- cold- spot maps show changes in wader populations the WaderMap project is about bring all this information together and letting people see where there are current wader conservation projects and to encourage landowners/managers to work collaboratively to establish ‘clusters’ of wader conservation projects.”

Professor Davy McCracken, co-chairman of Working for Waders, said: “It’s becoming clear that in order to be effective, wader conservation has to be rolled out across large areas, with collaborative projects involving multiple farms, estates and landholdings.

“Some actions can be win-wins for farmers, as they benefit both agricultural productivity and the waders. For example, applying lime to improve soil pH can increase the abundance of invertebrates the birds prey upon.”

The wader maps can be found here.

Notes to editors

Report on the project: https://www.hutton.ac.uk/sites/default/files/files/Newey_etal_IdentifyingWaderPriorityAreas_InternallyReviewed%26%20Signedoff_FINAL.pdf

More information from: 

Adam Walker, Communications Officer, James Hutton Institute, Tel: 01224 395095 (direct line), 0344 928 5428 (switchboard).


Printed from /news/targeted-conservation-key-wading-bird-recovery on 15/08/20 11:23:24 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.