Return of the white stork: a study of the population viability and habitat preferences of a novel population.

Mayall, Elouise (2022) Return of the white stork: a study of the population viability and habitat preferences of a novel population. Masters thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Reintroductions are often utilized in rewilding projects to aid in the restoration of self-sustaining ecosystems. However, reintroductions are challenging so to increase the probability of a reintroduction’s success it is recommended that extensive knowledge should be gained on the target species to support adaptive management strategies and identify risks to that population’s establishment.

This thesis will focus on the recent reintroduction of the European white stork (Ciconia ciconia) to the UK. Firstly, to explore the impact that different management strategies and migratory behaviour has on this population’s long-term viability, a population viability analysis (PVA) was conducted. The PVA demonstrated that if a small proportion of the British population overwinters in the UK the population would achieve a positive growth rate without additional management actions due to this behaviour’s associated lower mortality rates. Alternatively, management actions that increased fledglings per nest produced a 54.3% increase in population size after 50 years whilst combining all the explored management options produced a 378.3% increase.

Secondly, field data was collected to develop habitat suitability models to understand which habitat variables are associated with the population’s foraging behaviour during the breeding season. White storks were shown to prefer foraging in open areas close to their nests and water. White stork presence was also positively correlated to an open-air pen where injured storks were fed. Grass height was only identified as a significant explanatory variable at the micro-scale, with white storks preferring areas with shorter grass. Disturbance by walkers and the number of livestock were not influential at their current levels.

This thesis suggests a positive future for the white storks in the UK but recommends continuous close monitoring of this novel population. As more data becomes available these models can be updated to support this reintroduction more effectively and increase the probability of its success.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2023 11:14
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2023 11:16


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