Modelling the efficacy of proposed mitigation areas for shorebirds: A case study on the Seine estuary, France

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Authors: Dit Durell, S.E.A.L.V., Stillman, R.A., Triplet, P., Aulert, C., Dit Biot, D.O., Bouchet, A., Duhamel, S., Mayot, S. and Goss-Custard, J.D.

Journal: Biological Conservation

Volume: 123

Issue: 1

Pages: 67-77

ISSN: 0006-3207

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2004.10.009

A behaviour-based model was used to explore the effect of an extension of the port at Le Havre (Port 2000), and the effect of proposed mitigation measures, on the mortality and body condition of the three main shorebird species that overwinter in the estuary of the river Seine, France. In the model, a 20% reduction in the area of mudflats on the north side of the estuary had little effect on curlew Numenius arquata mortality and body condition but significantly increased mortality and decreased body condition in dunlin Calidris alpina and oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus. Disturbance of feeding birds both day and night had a significant effect on the mortality and body condition of all three shorebird species, as did disturbance of roosting birds. Disturbance of feeding birds in the daytime only had a significant effect on dunlin mortality and body condition, but not that of curlew and oystercatchers. In the model, the creation of a buffer zone to reduce disturbance of feeding birds restored shorebird mortality and body condition to pre-disturbance levels. A new mudflat area was also effective in mitigating the effect of habitat loss on all three shorebirds and in mitigating the effect of roost disturbance on dunlin and curlew. However, a new mudflat area was not effective in mitigating the effect of roost disturbance on oystercatcher mortality and body condition. The effectiveness of the mitigating mudflat depended as much on its size as its quality. We believe that this is the first time that anyone has been able to forecast the efficacy of proposed mitigation measures. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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