Population Dynamics of Benthic Species on Tidal Flats: the Possible Roles of Shorebird Predation

  • J. van der Meer
  • T. Piersma
  • J. J. Beukema
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 151)


In late summer millions of shorebirds leave their breeding grounds in the Arctic and move to tidal mudflats in the temperate and tropical zones. These mudflats can either be used as stopover sites during migration, or as overwintering areas. Shorebirds necessarily have high feeding rates and the densities of these salient predators can be high. Not surprisingly, many researchers have asked the question what the impact is of shorebirds on their intertidal invertebrate prey, and whether this impact may differ, for example, between temperate and tropical regions (Piersma and Beukema 1993). Generally, two approaches have been adopted to answer these questions. First, estimates of annual consumption by shorebirds were compared with annual invertebrate production estimates. Second, experiments were carried out using exclosure cages. We argue that neither of the two methods is very relevant in answering the questions posed. We suggest a more appropriate, but time-consuming, approach based on long-term observations.


Benthic Species Bird Predation Macoma Balthica Instantaneous Death Rate Exclosure Experiment 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. van der Meer
  • T. Piersma
  • J. J. Beukema

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