Habitat change and climate effects on the European Roller (Coracias garrulus); implications for conservation

Saunders, Philip (2016) Habitat change and climate effects on the European Roller (Coracias garrulus); implications for conservation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Global climate change, and associated habitat destruction and degradation, comprise 2 of the most important drivers of declines in biodiversity, and understanding their impact upon threatened taxa is an important objective for conservation initiatives. The farmland and migratory bird assemblages of Europe have both declined dramatically over the last century, and improving our understanding of the effects of climate and land use change upon them is of import when implementing successful conservation interventions. We focused upon the European Roller (Coracias garrulus), a migratory farmland species which has experienced large-scale population declines and range contractions across Europe, investigating the effects of habitat and climate change upon the species’ breeding biology and distribution. We modelled the effects of climatic conditions at key phenological points in the species’ annual cycle upon breeding parameters across its Mediterranean range and found that temperature comprised the key climatic correlate of clutch size and fledging success. This suggests that changing temperatures will lead to declines in Roller productivity across the Mediterranean. We produced a Habitat Suitability Model for the species on Cyprus and confirmed that the island’s Protected Area network incorporates a higher proportion of high value Roller habitat than external areas. We also identified high value areas currently external to the Protected Area network. We used novel Global Positioning System technology to quantify Roller home ranges in Cyprus and to identify optimal and avoided foraging habitat types. The importance of traditional farmland and grassland habitats for Rollers was confirmed, as was the negative impact of urban habitat upon Roller productivity. Nest site selection was also investigated for Rollers in Cyprus and Portugal, with our results indicating that selection occurs at the cavity level rather than landscape scale. Rollers in both populations preferred nest sites with smaller entrances, potentially due to decreased predation risk. High levels of nest site competition were identified in Portugal, and evidence of nest site limitation in both the Cypriot and Portuguese Roller populations was observed. Key overall recommendations from the study comprise the promotion of traditional farmland and grassland habitats within European agri-environment schemes, and the extension/initialisation of artificial nest site schemes for the Roller in Cyprus and Portugal.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Users 4971 not found.
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 10:08
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 10:08
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/65140


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