The conservation ecology of the European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) in a complex heathland-plantation landscape.

Sharps, Katrina (2013) The conservation ecology of the European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) in a complex heathland-plantation landscape. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The conservation ecology of the European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) was investigated in a complex heathland-plantation landscape in eastern England. Using radio telemetry, 31 nightjars were tracked in 2009 and 2010. The breeding behaviour of males was found to have potential implications for nightjar survey methods. While surveyors should be aware of the possibility of song territory overlap between male birds, results suggest that the occurrence of roaming unpaired males would not lead to an over-estimate in population. Home range 95% kernels for females, paired and unpaired males were an order of magnitude larger than song territories, highlighting the importance of foraging habitat in the broader landscape. Compositional analysis showed that foraging nightjars selected open canopy plantation forest (aged 5-10 years) and newly planted coupes (aged 0-4 years), with grazed grass-heath also used when available within 2km of the territory centre. Open ungrazed and un-planted habitat within the forest was avoided by birds, relative to availability. Moth trapping indicated that birds may choose foraging habitat based on the ease of prey capture rather than prey abundance. Dissection of nightjar faecal pellets demonstrated that moths and beetles were key components of the diet and that variation in diet during the breeding season may be due to changes in resource abundance and varying chick requirements. Comparison of the diets of birds nesting or roosting at varying distances from grass-heath suggested that forest and heathland habitats provide similar foraging resources for the nightjar. Behavioural data from nest camera footage indicated that the factors influencing the duration and frequency of adult non-attendance at the nest were incubation stage, temperature and chick requirements. This thesis combines investigations of nightjar breeding behaviour, home range, habitat use and diet, which can be used as an evidence base to inform conservation management.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2014 12:45
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2014 12:45


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