Effects of grassland intensification on Whinchats Saxicola rubetra and implications for conservation in upland habitats

Strebel, Gavino; Jacot, Alain; Horch, Petra; Spaar, Reto (2015). Effects of grassland intensification on Whinchats Saxicola rubetra and implications for conservation in upland habitats. Ibis, 157(2), pp. 250-259. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/ibi.12250

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Modern, intensive grassland management has led to strong declines in ground-nesting grassland birds, and is now increasingly threatening the last remaining strongholds of the Whinchat Saxicola rubetra in the Central European uplands. In this study, we assess key threats to Whinchat populations in these uplands in order to suggest appropriate conservation measures. We compared the direct threat of early mowing as well as the indirect threat resulting from a deteriorating arthropod food source in an inner-alpine valley. Five of our seven study sites were mown too early with respect to the chicks' fledging date. Such early mowing was particularly evident on the more intensively farmed, earlier mown valley bottoms than on the valley slopes. Arthropod abundance and biomass did not differ between valley bottoms and slopes. However, valley bottoms had a greater amount of unprofitable prey items such as flies. Breeding bird density was mainly determined by the degree of overlap between the mowing schedule and breeding phenology. These findings suggest that in upland grasslands at an early stage of intensification, early mowing is of greater importance for populations than possible negative effects of a reduced food source. We suggest that mowing is delayed until a sufficient proportion of nestlings are safely fledged.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Jacot, Alain

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0019-1019

Publisher:

Wiley-Blackwell

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

27 Sep 2016 09:31

Last Modified:

02 Oct 2016 02:12

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/ibi.12250

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.88905

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/88905

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