Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Vegetation structure influences foraging decisions in a declining grassland bird: the importance of fine-scale habitat and grazing regime

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Chris Murray, Jeroen Minderman, James Allison, John Calladine

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Capsule: Whinchat Saxicola rubetra foraging behaviour was significantly influenced by habitat structure and grazing.
Aims: To assess how foraging habitats selected by breeding Whinchats differed from wider territory attributes under contrasting grazing management in multiple upland areas in Scotland: principally sheep grazed, Red Deer grazed or ungrazed, and to identify how differing land use may limit suitable foraging areas.
Methods: We compared fine-scale vegetation structure in patches chosen for foraging by Whinchats in contrasting grazing management regimes.
Results: Whinchats were less likely to forage in patches with a greater cover of bracken and tall non-bracken vegetation, regardless of grazing regime. Grass cover influenced foraging behaviour in ungrazed habitats only, where Whinchats were less likely to forage in areas with high grass cover.
Conclusion: Whinchats appear to require a mosaic or range of sward structures within breeding territories, highlighting the importance of establishing how vegetation structure influences breeding birds at different spatial scales. Our results suggest that suitable foraging patches were plentiful within grazed habitats but potentially limited in ungrazed habitats. Further work is needed to identify management regimes and interventions to maintain conditions suitable for breeding Whinchats that are compatible with other land use and conservation objectives.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
JournalBird Study
Volume63
Issue number2
Early online date12 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Whinchat, Breeding ecology, Marginal upland, Foraging behaviour, Grazing

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. Bird Study (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Editor)
    20122015

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Bird Study (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Member of editorial board)
    2001 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Factors determining the frequency and productivity of double brooding of Barn Owls Tyto alba

    Jackson, P. & Cresswell, W., 2017, In : Bird Study. 64, 3, p. 353-361

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Nest site selection and patterns of nest re-use in the Hooded Crow Corvus cornix

    McIvor, G. E. & Healy, S. D., Sep 2017, In : Bird Study. 64, 3, p. 374-385

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. GPS tracking reveals rafting behaviour of Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus): implications for foraging ecology and conservation

    Carter, M. I. D., Cox, S. L., Scales, K. L., Bicknell, A. W. J., Nicholson, M. D., Atkins, K. M., Morgan, G., Morgan, L., Grecian, W. J., Patrick, S. C. & Votier, S. C., 2016, In : Bird Study. 63, 1, p. 83-95 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. High site fidelity in Northern Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe wintering in Africa revealed through colour marking

    Blackburn, E. & Cresswell, W. R. L., 2016, In : Bird Study. 63, 2, p. 284-288

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 242608597