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Population responses of Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica to expansion of heather Calluna vulgaris cover on a Scottish grouse moor

Ludwig, Sonja C. and Aebischer, Nicholas J. and Bubb, Damian and Richardson, Michael and Roos, Staffan and Wilson, Jeremy D. and Baines, David (2018). Population responses of Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica to expansion of heather Calluna vulgaris cover on a Scottish grouse moor. Avian Conservation and Ecology. 13 :2 , 1-22
[Journal article]

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Official URL: http://www.ace-eco.org/vol13/iss2/art14/

Abstract

Loss of heather Calluna vulgaris-dominated moorland in Britain has been associated with long-term declines in Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica, a gamebird of economic importance. We tested whether restoring heather habitat on a grouse moor in southwest Scotland, where heather was previously in decline, improved Red Grouse density, productivity, and survival. We analyzed spatial and temporal relationships between Red Grouse demographic rates, estimated from counts, and habitat variables measured from ground and aerial vegetation surveys. Reductions in sheep Ovis aries grazing and other heather restoration measures (i.e. burning and cutting, and in some areas reseeding of heather following herbicide treatment to reduce grass dominance) increased total heather cover by 10% and the area of heather-dominated vegetation by 30% within six years. Prebreeding, and for aerial surveys also postbreeding, densities of Red Grouse were highest in areas with more heather cover (range: 0-92%), and prebreeding densities increased more where heather recovery was greatest. However, we found no relationship between heather cover and Red Grouse productivity or survival rates, the latter also when rates were estimated from radio-tagged individuals. Changes in heather cover were not associated with changes in postbreeding densities or survival of Red Grouse, although they were positively related to change in productivity for aerial surveys. Overall, management for Red Grouse had a larger effect on density and productivity than reductions in sheep grazing. This is the first study examining Red Grouse responses in relation to changes in heather cover within the same site, in contrast to previous between-moor comparisons, where other factors may have contributed to variation in Red Grouse demography. Our results suggest that, in the long term, heather restoration has the potential to increase Red Grouse carrying capacity, but realizing this potential first requires improving Red Grouse demographic rates.

Authors/Creators:Ludwig, Sonja C. and Aebischer, Nicholas J. and Bubb, Damian and Richardson, Michael and Roos, Staffan and Wilson, Jeremy D. and Baines, David
Title:Population responses of Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica to expansion of heather Calluna vulgaris cover on a Scottish grouse moor
Year of publishing :2018
Volume:13
Number:2
Page range:1-22
Number of Pages:14
Publisher:Resilience Alliance
ISSN:1712-6568
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Refereed:Yes
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Zoology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:demographic rates, grazing management, grouse-moor management, habitat restoration
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-98375
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-98375
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.5751/ACE-01306-130214
Web of Science (WoS)000457478800014
ID Code:16217
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Swedish Species Information Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:05 Jul 2019 08:51
Metadata Last Modified:05 Jul 2019 08:51

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