, Volume 716, Issue 1, pp 163–176 | Cite as

Environmental factors shaping the distribution of common wintering waterbirds in a lake ecosystem with developed shoreline

  • Katalin Pap
  • Lajos Nagy
  • Csilla Balogh
  • László G -Tóth
  • András Liker
Primary Research Paper


In this study, we tested whether the spatial distribution of waterbirds is influenced by shoreline urbanization or other habitat characteristics. We conducted monthly censuses along shoreline sections of a continental lake (Lake Balaton, Hungary) to assess the abundance of 11 common species that use this lake as a feeding and staging area during migration and winter. We estimated the degree of urbanization of the same shoreline sections and also measured other habitat characteristics (water depth, extent of reed cover, biomass of zebra mussels, distances to waste dumps and to other wetlands). We applied linear models and model averaging to identify habitat variables with high relative importance for predicting bird distributions. Bird abundance and urbanization were strongly related only in one species. Other habitat variables exhibited stronger relationships with bird distribution: (1) diving ducks and coots preferred shoreline sections with high zebra mussel biomass, (2) gulls preferred sites close to waste dumps, and (3) the abundances of several species were higher on shoreline sections close to other wetlands. Our findings suggest that the distribution of waterbirds on Lake Balaton is largely independent of shoreline urbanization and influenced by food availability and connectivity between wetlands.


Shoreline development Waterbird abundance Habitat use Mussel biomass Wetland connectivity Model averaging 



The comments of two anonymous reviewers, furthermore Á. Gyimesi’s and Zs. Végvári’s suggestions on the earlier version of this manuscript significantly improved the quality of this article. T. Hegyi (Warrant Officer and the Hungarian Defence Forces, Joint Force Command) kindly provided the equipment and assistance for distance measuring. The Central Transdanubian Environmental and Water Authority let us use the aerial photographs. M. Golding reviewed the language of this manuscript. A. Liker was supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship.

Supplementary material

10750_2013_1560_MOESM1_ESM.doc (358 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 358 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katalin Pap
    • 1
  • Lajos Nagy
    • 2
  • Csilla Balogh
    • 3
  • László G -Tóth
    • 3
    • 4
  • András Liker
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of LimnologyUniversity of PannoniaVeszprémHungary
  2. 2.Balaton Uplands National Park DirectorateCsopakHungary
  3. 3.Balaton Limnological Research InstituteTihanyHungary
  4. 4.Institute of Regional Economics and Rural Development, Faculty of Economics and Social SciencesSzent István UniversityGödöllőHungary
  5. 5.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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