Population sizes and habitat associations of upland breeding birds in the south Pennines, England

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Authors: Stillman, R.A. and Brown, A.F.

Journal: Biological Conservation

Volume: 69

Issue: 3

Pages: 307-314

ISSN: 0006-3207

DOI: 10.1016/0006-3207(94)90431-6

The unenclosed uplands of the south Pennines, approximately 725 km 2 , were surveyed for upland breeding birds between 12 April and 28 June 1990. The breeding populations of curlew Numenius arquata, golden plover Pluvialis apricaria and merlin Falco columbarius comprised a higher proportion of their national totals than would be expected simply due to the size of the study area, indicating that the south Pennines are of particular importance for these species. Altitude and slope were closely associated with bird distribution. Dunlin Caladris alpina and golden plover were more abundant on high-altitude plateaux, curlew more abundant on low-altitude flat areas, and lapwing Vanellus vanellus, snipe Gallinago gallinago and twite Acanthis flavirostris were more numerous in low-altitude areas with a range of slopes. Associations with vegetation type and structure also varied between species. Red grouse Lagopus lagopus, merlin and short-eared owl Asio flammeus were associated with heather moorland, but no waders or passerines showed any such relationship. Dunlin and golden plover were most strongly associated with blanket bog. Whinchat Saxicola rubetra were closely associated with bracken Pteridum aquilinum cover, and merlin and curlew showed associations with tall heather Calluna vulgaris. The results of the present study are discussed with reference to the importance of the south Pennines breeding bird populations and to the potential effects of habitat change on their distribution and abundance. © 1994.

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