Observer impacts on birds

Subject: Observer impacts on birds
From: "Martin O'Brien"<>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 13:47:43 +1000
Mention has been made of potential impacts of marking birds with respect to
increased predation.

This is a fairly regular discussion and study area in the scientific
literature.  Some examples immediately to hand are:

(a) Ad Hoc committee on the use of wild birds in research.  1988 - The Auk
(supplement). vol. 105.
(b) Conservation Biology - various issues.  Several papers on buffer zones
and impacts of humans/ecotourism on nesting bird colonies
(c) Incidence of avian predators near people searching for waterfowl nests.
J. Wildlife Mgt. 44(1). {1980}
(d) Effects of research activities on nest predation in Arctic-nesting
geese.  J. Wilfl. Mgt. 60(2): 265-69 {1996}

There is also evidence that introduced predators (in this case Red fox)
will take advantage of localised loss of thickets of vegetation, using
newly formed openings in the understorey as movement corridors.  This
should be sobering information to keep in mind when you are "bush-bashing"
through heathland for example.

The following quote is worth remembering:
"...many well meaning observers still retain...'the myth of the
non-consumptive user', which is that non-exploitative uses of wildlife
resources have trifling effects on such organisms (seabirds in this case)."

Anderson, D. W. & Keith, J. O. (1980) The human influence on seabird
nesting success: conservation implications.  Biol. Cons. 18: 65-80.

What experience do others have on this issue?

Martin O'Brien
Executive Scientific Officer
Scientific Advisory Committee
Threatened Species Program
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
4/250 Victoria Pde.,
East Melbourne,  3002

tel: +61 3 9412 4567
fax: +61 3 9412 4586

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