- The levels of disturbance experienced by birds in the UK are difficult to estimate but the available evidence suggests that they could be considerable, with significant implications for bird conservation. This paper addresses three sources of disturbance to birds in the UK: from recreational pursuits; developments (construction and operation); and hunting.
- Legislative requirements to take account of disturbance impacts are increasing but there has been little research to provide a sound scientific basis for impact assessment. A review of studies of the effects of disturbance on birds between 1970 and the present reveals considerable scope for improvement in the way in which results of research are applied. Disturbance effects (e.g. local site movements) and disturbance impacts (where a population is affected) are often confused.
- Three example studies are reviewed which may point the way forward. The first takes a multivariate approach to assess the influence of disturbance on the use of sites by birds; the second takes an experimental approach by manipulating the source of disturbance; the third takes a modelling approach to establish metapopulation impacts of disturbance.
- From this analysis, an outline of research priorities at local, regional and flyway scales is proposed.