Assessing waterbird conservation objectives: An example for the Burry Inlet, UK

R.A. Stillman, J.J. Moore, A.P. Woolmer, M.D. Murphy, P. Walker, K.R. Vanstaen, D. Palmer, William Sanderson

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    We use an individual-based model to assess the conservation objectives for knot Calidris canutus L. and oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus L. on the Burry Inlet Special Protection Area (SPA), UK. Population monitoring has identified a decline in oystercatcher numbers, but cannot determine whether this is due to a decline in site quality. Long term data on cockle stocks show that the biomass of the large-sized cockles consumed by oystercatcher declined after 2004, whereas a similar decline was not observed in the smaller cockles consumed by knot. The model postdicts that during the winters of 2005/2006 to 2008/2009 the site was unable to support the number of oystercatcher present at the time it was desig- nated (i.e. the SPA population). Large cockle biomass remained low during 2009/2010, but increases in mussel biomass meant that the model postdicted that the site could support the SPA population of oys- tercatcher. Knot food supplies remained high during most years, except 2008/2009 during which the model postdicted that the SPA population could not be supported. The model postdicted that the stock reserved for oystercatchers after shellfishing needed to be 2–4 times the amount consumed by the birds in order to support the bird population. We recommend that where necessary, the conservation objec- tives of waterbirds should be assessed using a combination of thorough population size and behaviour monitoring to identify sites with population declines, and individual-based modelling on these sites to determine whether reduction in site quality may contribute to the site-specific population decline.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2617-2630
    Number of pages14
    JournalBiological Conservation
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


    • Burry Inlet
    • Coastal birds
    • Conservation management
    • Indicators
    • Individual-based model
    • Knot Calidris canutus
    • Marine Protected Area
    • Monitoring
    • Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
    • Shellfishing
    • Special Protection Area


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