Modelling the effect of environmental change on shorebirds: A case study on Poole Harbour, UK

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Authors: Sarah, S.E.A., Stillman, R.A., Caldow, R.W.G., McGrorty, S., West, A.D. and Humphreys, J.

Journal: Biological Conservation

Volume: 131

Issue: 3

Pages: 459-473

ISSN: 0006-3207

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.02.022

An individuals-based model, MORPH, was used to assess the quality of Poole Harbour, UK, for five overwintering shorebirds: dunlin Calidris alpina, redshank Tringa totanus, black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa, oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus and curlew Numenius arquata. Site quality, and the effect of environmental change, was measured as predicted overwinter survival. Dunlin had the highest prey biomass densities and were the least likely to be affected by reductions in their food supply, lower temperatures or loss of terrestrial habitats. Black-tailed godwits and curlew had the lowest prey biomass densities and were the most likely to be affected by reductions in their food supply, lower temperatures and loss of terrestrial habitats. All five shorebird species were seriously affected by simulated sea-level rise. Conservation issues identified for the Poole Harbour SPA were the relatively low densities of larger size classes of polychaete worms, the importance of maintaining and managing surrounding terrestrial habitats and the effect of sea-level rise on the length of time for which intertidal food supplies are available. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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