An approach to assess the potential impacts of human disturbance on wintering tropical shorebirds

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2008

Authors: Yasué, M, Dearden P, Moore A

Journal: Oryx

Volume: 42

Issue: 03

Date Published: 7/2008

ISSN: 1365-3008

Keywords: Foraging ecology; human disturbance; Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park; predation; Thailand; waders

Abstract:

Numerous studies have documented behavioural changes in wildlife because of human disturbance. Disturbance may threaten waders if there are no alternative habitats or foraging times. Here we compared human and dog densities, natural and anthropogenic disturbance rates, prey availability and wader foraging rates at five sites in and around Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, Thailand, with different shorebird densities, to assess whether disturbance forced wintering waders to under-use high quality sites consistently. We also examined diel and tidal variability in prey densities and tested whether people and dogs cause temporary displacement or reductions in foraging rates. Although there were significant differences in shorebird, human and dog densities as well as anthropogenic disturbance rates and prey availability amongst the five sites, there was no indication that birds were being displaced from the highest quality habitat. There was little diel or tidal variation in most types of prey. People did not temporarily displace waders but did reduce foraging rates. The availability of high quality, alternative foraging habitat with low human disturbance, and nocturnal prey availability, along with the lack of any short-term displacement of birds from areas of high disturbance suggest that disturbance is unlikely to affect wader fitness in this National Park. By examining a range of important habitat characteristics and wader spatial distributions, our study demonstrates a method and a theoretical framework to evaluate the possible impacts of human disturbance on wildlife.

DOI: 10.1017/S0030605308061139

Short Title: ORX