Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 227–234 | Cite as

Management of reedbeds: mosaic reed cutting does not affect prey abundance and nest predation rate of reed passerine birds

  • Alfréd TrnkaEmail author
  • Viera Peterková
  • Pavol Prokop
  • Péter Batáry
Original Paper


Reed passerine birds are strict habitat specialists inhabiting reedbed habitats. In Europe, many of these species are threatened due to loss and degradation of natural reedbeds. Another important factor that can negatively affect the abundance of reed passerines is commercial reed harvesting. Previous studies have shown negative impacts of large-scale winter reed cutting on passerine breeding assemblages and arthropod communities. The effect of reed cutting on a small scale, however, has not been studied experimentally to date. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how small-scale, mosaic reed cutting influences prey abundance and nest predation rate of reed passerines. In June, after the reed had reached maturity, we conducted nest predation experiments with artificial nests and arthropod sampling using pan traps in cut reed patches, adjacent uncut reed patches and unmanaged reedbed. We found no differences in the risk of egg predation between three types of reedbeds. In contrast, the abundance of arthropods in cut and adjacent uncut reed patches was significantly higher than that in unmanaged reedbed. We assume this was caused by habitat heterogeneity, small size of cut patches and their rapid recolonization by arthropods from adjacent uncut patches. Our results suggest that in contrast to large-scale reed cutting, small-scale, mosaic reed cutting has no negative effect on nest survival and food abundance of reed passerine birds. However, given that we performed all experiments in June, i.e., when the reed was mature, our findings cannot be generalized to whole breeding period of all reed passerine birds. Therefore, temporal variation in nest predation rate and arthropod abundance in managed and unmanaged reedbeds during the entire breeding season should be examined in future studies.


Phragmites australis Arthropod communities Acrocephalus warblers Panurus biarmicus Conservation 



We thank F. Hrdlovič, J. Medveď, M. Medveď and B. Trnková for their invaluable assistance in the field, M. Zatko and master students for helping make artificial nests and pan traps and L. Sutcliffe for linguistic revision. The comments of two referees substantially improved the manuscript. The study was conducted in compliance with the law of Slovakia. Licence to perform experiments was provided by the Ministry of Environment of Slovak Republic. This work was supported by the Slovak Grant Agency for Science (VEGA), project No. 1/3257/06. During the preparation of the paper, P. B. was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG BA 4438/1-1).

Supplementary material

11273_2013_9325_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.8 mb)
Location of study plots in the study area. Each dot represents one study plot. Yellow dots represent study plots located in cut reed patches, green dots represent study plots located in adjacent uncut reed patches and brown dots represent study plots located in unmanaged reedbed. Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 1880 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfréd Trnka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Viera Peterková
    • 1
  • Pavol Prokop
    • 1
  • Péter Batáry
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTrnava UniversityTrnavaSlovakia
  2. 2.AgroecologyGeorg-August UniversityGöttingenGermany

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