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28 November 2017


UTC 1200 – 1530
Moderator: Laura Gordon @laurabgordon


UTC 1200 | Graham Appleton @GrahamFAppleton
UTC 1200 | WaderTales, UK

International Shorebird Rescue

If a Slender-billed Curlew turns up anywhere in Europe, Africa or the Arabian peninsula, a small team of shorebird experts would quickly be assembled, first to confirm identification and then to try to catch it. So much could be learned from just one bird – assuming that any Slender-billed Curlews still exist. Wader conservation is dynamic and focused and this presentation will aim to explain why this is the case. Is it because the ‘supply chain’ between data-collectors and conservation advocates is short or does the global span of wader migration encourage international cooperation?

Conservation solutions cannot be parochial because waders link countries – and continents. The culling of Welsh Oystercatchers in the 1970s might have placated cockle-gatherers in the Burry Inlet but it also upset the people of Norway. A liberal attitude to hunting in some countries is at odds with the work being undertaken elsewhere to protect declining species. Coming right up to date, the rapid development of the countries around the Yellow Sea is affecting birds that travel from Siberia and Alaska to countries as far apart as India and New Zealand.

This presentation will draw upon examples that illustrate the benefits of science-based decision-making. There will be innovative techniques, such as head-starting breeding waders, global solutions, through international treaties, and incentives that turn hunters into bird guides. At its heart will be cooperation and the International Wader Study Group.

Graham Appleton is the author of the WaderTales blog series, in which he draws upon over 40 years of shorebird experience. Some articles are generic, such as Which wader, when and why, which is about migration, whilst other focus on a single paper, e.g. Why is spring migration getting earlier?


UTC 1230 | Camilo Carneiro @Camilo_Carneiro
UTC 1200 | University of Aveiro, Portugal &
UTC 1200 | University of Iceland

Is faster spring the rule? Contrasting seasonal variation in Whimbrel migration duration to other waders

As earlier breeding often leads to higher productivity, migratory birds may be likely to minimize migration duration in spring to a greater extent than in autumn. In fact, this seasonal difference has previously been shown for several groups, but recent evidence suggests that the Icelandic Whimbrel, a long distance migratory wader, tends to migrate faster in autumn than in spring. We investigate its case using 56 migrations from 19 individuals tracked with geolocators and compile the information currently available on migration across tracked wader species, in order to explore the variation in seasonal migration duration in this group.

UTC 1245 | Vojtech Brlik @Vojtech_Brlik
UTC 1200 | Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Effect of geolocators on small birds: a meta-analysis

The recent advent of miniature geolocators has led to an increase in the number of studies employing these devices, especially in small species, where tags’ effect is not well known. Here, I test the effect of geolocators on small birds (body mass up to 100 g) by comparing around 5 000 geolocator-tagged and 13 000 control birds from more than 100 studies (over 45 % unpublished results). I found a small negative effect on return rates and body condition of tagged birds while phenology and breeding performance were not affected. It seems that aerial species are the most affected group.

UTC 1300 | Jude Lane @heyjooode
UTC 1200 | University of Leeds, UK

Foraging behaviour of Northern Gannets during two distinct stages of the breeding season

The seabird breeding season can last as long as a year for some long-lived seabirds. However, the majority of short-term high-resolution tracking studies of seabirds focus almost exclusively on the early and late chick-rearing phases of the breeding season. In 2017, for the first time, we fitted GPS loggers to adult gannets at Bass Rock prior to egg-laying and during the chick-rearing period. We compare central-place foraging behaviour with and without the constraint of providing for offspring and establish important foraging areas at a different time of year.

UTC 1315 | Rich Howells @howellsrj
UTC 1200 | Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK

Demographic trends and their drivers at a North Sea European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis colony over five decades

Environmental conditions are a key determinant of fitness in wild animals. Effects may be immediate or have downstream consequences, where conditions affect subsequent fitness (‘carry-over effects’). Populations will be affected by both effects concurrently, yet few studies have quantified both simultaneously. We utilise long-term European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis demographic data (1965-2016), to quantify trends and test the immediate and delayed determinants of reproduction. Productivity increased by 14% over the study, while phenology advanced by ~26 days. Crucially, we demonstrate that reproductive trends observed within this population were largely determined by carry-over effects of past reproductive effort and environmental conditions.

UTC 1330 | Edna Correia @ednarcorreia
UTC 1200 | University of Lisbon, Portugal

DNA metabarcoding reveals diet of terns in West Africa

Understanding trophic interactions in marine communities is key to develop ecosystem-based management approaches. We studied (using pellets and DNA metabarcoding) the diet of 7 tern species (European migrants + local breeders) in Guinea-Bissau, and of 3 pelagic predatory fishes. All species fed mostly (>77% for terns and > 41% for fishes of frequency of occurrence) on clupeids, particularly Sardinella maderensis. These findings suggest a wasp-waist ecosystem in the region, with Sardinella spp as the key species and likely having a major role controlling the distribution and abundance of terns.

UTC 1345 | Andrew Tongue @ TongueAndrew
UTC 1200 | University of Birmingham, UK

Birds as biondicators of flame retardant emissions from landfill

Certain flame retardants (FRs) have been shown to bioaccumulate in organisms, biomagnifying at elevated trophic levels. Such compounds are subject to long-range transport and are persistent. Some of the worst-offending such chemicals are now banned or restricted in many jurisdictions. Municipal solid waste landfill may represent a reservoir of such chemicals since the goods they were applied to have become obsolete. Landfill is an important foraging resource for various gull Larus species, among other bird groups.
Utilising analytical chemistry and behavioural research, we aim to test the hypothesis that landfill-foraging gulls constitute effective bioindicators of FR emissions from landfill.

UTC 1400 | BREAK

A dedicated session from @RSPBscience (RSPB Centre for Conservation Science) highlighting the breadth of the RSPB’s ornithological research.

UTC 1415 | Mark Hulme @ MarkFHulme
UTC 1200 | RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, UK

More cocoa more wildlife, more cocoa less conflict? The four years of Gola Darwin

The Darwin project “Enhancing habitat connectivity through sustainable development around the Gola Rainforest” started in 2013 and, with a break due to the Ebola crisis, finished this year. Over 650 bird points were conducted, 50 plantations mapped, 7000 cocoa pods counted, 20 communities visited and results are being disseminated to 122 forest edge communities to aid REDD+ livelihood development, biodiversity and carbon conservation. The results show that maintaining the forest in the National Park is the priority for wildlife, but cocoa plantations seem preferential to slash-and-burn for biodiversity, in synergy with development priorities for the area. 20% of pods are damaged by wildlife with monkeys responsible for the majority. Proportional damage was worse closer to settlements and where pod numbers were lower, no effect with proximity to the park. Increasing yield mitigates for losses and novel solutions should be developed, which will be more effective when concentrated close to villages.

UTC 1430 | Toby Galligan @toby_galligan
UTC 1200 | RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, UK

The big vulture telemetry study in Nepal

This November, the RSPB and SAVE partners released captive-reared vultures in Nepal. This marked a major change in our conservation programme from breeding vultures and the preparation of a Vulture Safe Zone to releasing vultures and the evaluation of conservation actions so far. Our monitoring has shown an end to diclofenac sales for veterinary purposes and a partial recovery of white-rumped vultures Gyps bengalensis. Now, we want to determine exactly how safe is the Vulture Safe Zone; and how successful is our captive-rearing. The big vulture telemetry project aims to do that by tagging (satellite transmitters) and tracking 20 wild and 20 released vultures over several years. Currently, 17 vultures (wild and released) are sending encouraging data.

UTC 1445 | Lucy Mason @LucyRMason
UTC 1200 | RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, UK

Mammalian predators are more important in limiting wader chick survival than previously thought

Predation limits the breeding success and population recovery of waders on lowland wet grassland. Managing predation requires knowledge of the predators and because these can be grouped into nocturnal or diurnal hunters, detecting the timing of predation can help assess their relative impacts. Studies investigating the timing of nest predation have identified nocturnal mammals, primarily foxes, as the most important egg predators, but quantifying predator importance for highly mobile wader chicks is more difficult. Manual radiotelemetry can detect whether chicks are alive but cannot detect the time of predation, and predator identity can be determined only in the few cases where remains are recovered. As an alternative we used Automatic Radio Tracking Stations (ARTS) to constantly record the signals and predation timing of radiotagged lapwing chicks, combining this with manual telemetry, inference about predator identity from predated remains and predator activity monitoring to determine the identity of wader chick predators.

UTC 1500 | Ellie Owen @ Ellingbry
UTC 1200 | RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, UK

Citizen scientists provide the data to map variation in Puffin diet

Puffins are one of the most photographed birds but concern is mounting as low productivity and steep declines are recorded in former strongholds of their European range. Broad scale declines have been linked to reduced food availability but Puffin diet data is only available for a handful of colonies. We combined the people-power of visitors to Puffin colonies with advances in camera technology by inviting citizen scientists to submit photographs of Puffins carrying fish. Uptake was high with over 600 volunteers (“Puffarazzi”) submitting over 1400 pictures from 40 colonies. A team of six interns identified the species and size composition of prey in each photograph and recorded their level of confidence associated with their identification. We present the resulting data, which provides the first UK scale assessment of variation in Puffin diet, and share our findings on the design of citizen science projects using digital photography.

UTC 1515 | Joelene Hughes @joelene_x3
UTC 1200 | RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, UK

Connection to nature changes with age

Connection to nature has been positively linked to pro-conservation behaviour. The “extinction of experience” and low connection in the population is considered a critical threat to the future of biodiversity by the conservation community. If people no longer see nature as relevant to their lives they may be less willing to invest in its protection. Developing people’s connection to nature has, therefore, become a high priority. With limited resources for tackling such challenges, it is important to understand the impacts of targeting different sections of society. This study hypothesised that the multidimensional structure of connection to nature means there may be variation in connection as people’s lives progress. Two familiar measures of connection to nature, the NR-6 and the CNI, were used to examine a UK sample across the lifespan. Results identified points of change and suggest key influential age groups where it is worth addressing connection to nature.

UTC 1530 | BREAK

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