Distance from shore positively influences alert distance in three wetland bird species
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Behavioural responses of wetland fauna to humans constitutes a potential conservation threat, and may alter how animals use wetlands and their surrounds. We predicted that the farther from refuge (i.e. water) that terrestrially foraging rails occurred, the longer the distance at which they would become alert when approached. We found that the distance at which Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra, Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio, and Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa became alert to an approaching predator (i.e. human) increased with distance from the shore of a wetland (species and starting distance were not significant but associated with low power). Thus, these behavioural measures suggest these birds use water in wetlands as a refuge from potential threats such as people.
KeywordsDisturbance Buffers Human Wildlife Interactions Conflict Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
This research was supported by funding from Melbourne Water, a Victoria University Fellowship and a Faculty of Health Engineering and Science Collaborative Research Grant Scheme to PJG. We thank Dr W.K. Steele for his support and advice and Gina Marino and William Maloney for their help in the field. Data were collected under Victoria University Animal Ethics Committee Permit AEETH 15/10, National Parks Permit 10004656, Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) Scientific Permit Nos. 10004656 and 10005536. The write up was facilitated by a New Initiatives Grant from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences (Deakin University).
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