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The importance of temporal dynamics of edge effect in reedbed design: a 12-year study on five bird species


Although edge effect is a key topic of conservation biology, we have no data on the temporal dynamics of it. I investigated the distribution of five passerine bird species across reedbed (Phragmites australis) edges during large-scale construction work in the Kis-Balaton marshland, Hungary. The construction provided an “experimental” approach to study the effects of large timescale changes within a shorter period, because neither the locality nor the vegetation type changed. The water level was increased in the study area, which homogenised the internal structure of reedbed by declining the scattered small willow bushes (Salix) and the grass/sedge layer. The sedge (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) preferred edges. The sedge warbler, however, declined after inundation, while the reed warbler did not respond. Savi’s warbler (Locustella luscinioides) sharply declined during the study with changing edge effect. The number of great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) increased during the study, mainly in the reedbed interior, where the stands became patchy with open water. Reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) avoided interiors, and declined over the study. Therefore, there were significant changes in the distribution of reedbed birds across the edge, although the location of edges and the basic habitat, reedbed, did not change. The results highlight the need to incorporate edge effect as a dynamic process in wetland planning.

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Correspondence to András Báldi.

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Báldi, A. The importance of temporal dynamics of edge effect in reedbed design: a 12-year study on five bird species. Wetlands Ecol Manage 13, 183–189 (2005).

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  • Acrocephalus spp
  • Edge effect
  • Emberiza schoeniclus
  • Fragmentation
  • Locustella luscinioides
  • Phragmites reedbed management