The value of wader foraging behaviour study to assess the success of restored intertidal areas

  • Mander L
  • Marie-Orleach L
  • Elliott M
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Abstract

The loss of intertidal habitat in estuaries has resulted in the need to create new habitats in order to protect waterbird populations. In order to examine the waterbird colonisation of restored intertidal areas created in 2003 through the realignment of the flood defence in the Humber Estuary (UK), the feeding behaviour of Redshank ( Tringa totanus) was observed in April 2008. Numbers of pecks, probes and paces (numbers of steps) and the prey intake events were compared between Redshank foraging on the restored mudflat and on the adjacent established mudflat. Redshank prey intake and success rate (prey intake divided by the total numbers of pecks and probes) were significantly lower on the restored mudflat compared to the adjacent established mudflat. Conversely, the number of steps taken while foraging and the number of paces per successful feeding event were significantly greater on the restored mudflat. This shows that focal behaviour in restored intertidal areas can be directly compared with that in natural established mudflat in order to examine differences in foraging behaviour. The findings emphasise that a study of foraging behaviour should be incorporated into the assessment of restoration success of intertidal areas as an indication of habitat quality. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Foraging behaviour
  • Habitat creation
  • Intertidal mudflat
  • Redshank

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