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1 September 2015 Moderate livestock grazing of salt, and brackish marshes benefits breeding birds along the mainland coast of the Wadden Sea
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Abstract

Our study investigated how bird species richness and abundance was related to livestock grazing on salt, and brackish marshes, with an emphasis on songbirds, and shorebirds. Survey areas with a high percentage cover of tall vegetation were assumed to have experienced lower livestock grazing intensities than survey areas with a low percentage cover of tall vegetation. This relationship was verified for the tall grass Elytrigia atherica. The species richness, and abundance of birds was related to the percentage cover of tall vegetation on the survey areas. We found that total bird species richness was positively related to the percentage cover of tall vegetation. We also found that all of the investigated species, except Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), showed a positive relation to the percentage cover of tall vegetation up to a specific percentage of cover. The abundance of investigated songbird species increased up to an intermediate percentage cover of tall vegetation, and decreased at higher percentage cover of tall vegetation, suggesting that moderate grazing of marshes may maximize the abundance of the investigated songbirds. Abundances of Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) and Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) were positively related to the percentage cover of tall vegetation on salt marshes, but negatively related to the percentage cover of tall vegetation on brackish marshes. With intermediate livestock grazing species number, and abundance of most breeding birds can be maintained in coastal marshes. However, specific goals for management should be set before applying a grazing regime to a marsh.

© 2015 The Wilson Ornithological Society
Freek S. Mandema, Joost M. Tinbergen, Bruno J. Ens, Kees Koffijberg, Kees S. Dijkema, and Jan P. Bakker "Moderate livestock grazing of salt, and brackish marshes benefits breeding birds along the mainland coast of the Wadden Sea," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 127(3), 467-476, (1 September 2015). https://doi.org/10.1676/13-133.1
Received: 24 August 2013; Accepted: 1 December 2014; Published: 1 September 2015
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