Dutch breeding birds population changes

This is a video portrait of Erik van Ommen, a bird painter from the Netherlands. He published a book on avocets and followed these birds from the north of Holland to the south of Portugal.

12 March 2010.

Translated from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands:

All 170 Dutch breeding birds species, 8 million birds counted during 700,000 hours of counting, population data of 15 years and 25 criteria: ornithologist Chris van Turnhout brought it all together in one model, published this month in the journal Biological Conservation. …

The tawny pipit has disappeared from the Netherlands in 2004, the wheatear is likely to follow. They breed on the ground and are insect eaters, and they spend the winter in tropical Africa. That is a big risk: climate change makes that insect populations are peaking earlier in the year, before the young birds hatch. Migratory birds cannot keep up with that change yet.

From Biological Conservation journal:

Life-history and ecological correlates of population change in Dutch breeding birds


Predicting relative extinction risks of animals has become a major challenge in conservation biology. Identifying life-history and ecological traits related to the decline of species helps understand what causes population decreases and sets priorities for conservation action.

Here, we use Dutch breeding bird data to correlate species characteristics with national population changes. We modelled population changes between 1990 and 2005 of all 170 breeding bird species using 25 life-history, ecological and behavioural traits as explanatory variables. We used multiple regression and multi-model inference to account for intercorrelated variables, to assess the relative importance of traits that best explain interspecific differences in population trend, and to identify the environmental changes most likely responsible.

We found that more breeding birds have increased than decreased in number. The most parsimonious models suggest that ground-nesting and late arrival at the breeding grounds in migratory birds are most strongly correlated with decline. Increasing populations are mainly found among herbivores, sedentary and short-distance migrants, herb- and shrub-nesting birds and large species with a small European range.

Declines in ground-nesting and late arriving migrant birds suggest that agricultural intensification, eutrophication and climate change are most likely responsible for changes in Dutch breeding bird diversity. We illustrate that management strategies should primarily focus on the traits and causes responsible for the population changes, in order to be effective and sustainable.

Climate change threatens to further imperil hundreds of species of migratory birds, already under stress from habitat loss, invasive species and other environmental threats, concludes a new report released by United States’ Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar: here.

Tawny pipit sounds here.

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