Sea-level rise and increasing flooding risk of saltmarsh breeding birds

Climate change, tidal flooding risks and breeding shorebirds Bird populations are declining in the Wadden Sea. The contribution of climate change has been understudied, but recent evidence suggests that increased flooding frequencies during the breeding season are already affecting bird populations that breed on salt marshes. These effects are expected to get worse in the near future if birds do not adapt their nest-site selection, suggesting that the importance of low-lying breeding areas for shorebirds could decline substantially in the coming decades. The crucial question now is to what extent birds may adapt their habitat selection to the changing environment. Although several studies suggest that the adaptive potential of birds to more frequent flooding events is limited, this is based on anecdotal evidence and systematic long-term studies are now needed. Furthermore, such studies will inform us about the factors that constrain birds from selecting higher nest sites (vegetation, food, predators), such that efficient management strategies may be identified.

De Levende Natuur, jaargang 113, uitgave 3, mei 2012

Van de Pol M., Ens B.J., Bakker J.P. & Esselink P.



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