Migrant Landbird Study Group

Promoting collaborative research for migratory landbirds across flyways

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In our 3th webinar, Kaan Özgencil (MLSG outreach & social media) talked about functional responses to habitat degradation in waterbirds. Kaan’s work is based at the METU in Ankara, Turkey, and includes the monitoring of breeding waterbirds and conservation aspects in wetlands. In Turkey, many wetland habitats are decreasing due to human induced degradation and climate change, e.g. in the Konya Closed Basin, where agriculture changes from wheat production to sugar beet cultivation, temperatures are rising, salinity is increasing, and lakes are drying earlier in the season. These factors caused a decline in species richness of 20 % and  functional richness of 65 % within 20 years.

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Almut Schlaich (MLSG conference support) is working for the NGO Dutch Montagu‘s Harrier Foundation, conducting research on this species during the whole annual cycle. The Montagu’s Harrier is breeding in the Netherlands with ~50 breeding pairs, is enlisted as critically endangered, and spends the non-breeding period in sub-Saharan Africa. Research includes nest monitoring, tracking of individuals during breeding season (space use/home ranges), as well as during migration (identification of crucial stopover areas) and investigations in the wintering grounds (prey availability in relation to environmental conditions). Populations of different European countries vary in the distances they fly in different periods of the year. The NGO is not only doing research, but also direct conservation actions, i.e. nest protection in agricultural landscapes.

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Koosje Lamers (MLSG treasurer apprentice) is working on annual schedules and adaptation to climate change of the migratory Pied Flycatcher. Migrants‘ migration and breeding phenology is expected to shift according to prey availability, but long-distance dispersal (northwards) might be another strategy to cope with earlier resource peaks. In 4 years running an experimental project on this topic, Koosje presented data on timing and success of breeding in Dutch and Swedish populations of Pied Flycatchers, and of northwards translocated individuals. Translocated individuals were breeding earlier, driven by both environmental factors as well as the genetic origin, and had higher recruitment rates than late breeders, leading to a better matching with the advanced food peak.

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Martha Maria Sander (MLSG webinar organisation, outreach&social media), based in Turin, Italy, presented her work on the link between breeding and migration of Northern Wheatears breeding in Alpine open grasslands, which are especially threatened by the upward shift of the tree line and global warming. Year to year differences in snowmelt and timing of spring green-up are driving birds‘ breeding phenology, with earlier laying in early years (2020), which can have negative impacts on the breeding success.

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We thank the ~ 70 people in the audience for attending and discussing with us and look forward to the next webinar on October 20th!

The announcement and link will be shared here, in our facebook group and via twitter @MigrantLandbird.

Perhaps you would like some feedback on your own research or to promote a new project? Let us know and we can give you the opportunity to speak up!


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M.M. Sander