Habitat preference of Common Sandpipers (Actitis hypoleucos) along the River Rába, Hungary

Abstract

We investigated habitat preference of Common Sandpipers as part of a monitoring program in the Őrség National Park, Hungary. Field observations were conducted during the summers between 2008 and 2012 along a 47-km long section of the River Rába. During the observations we recorded the number and location of birds on the river bank. We divided the studied area into 1 km long sections and measured the proportion of the visually distinguishable habitat types (water, low gravel and sand bank, vegetation and degraded area) from a digitalized map. Furthermore, we recorded the number of the low banks and the number of bends of the river within each section, as well as the sections’ distance from the closest hydroelectric power plants and human settlements. In 2012 we also performed a detailed habitat mapping, recording the proportion of the vegetation types along the river bank and the number of fishing spots, embankment strengthenings and gravel banks. We tested the correlations between these habitat variables and number of birds present in the river sections. Our results show that Common Sandpipers were observed more frequently in locations which have (1) larger number and area of low gravel and sand banks, (2) less dense vegetation, and (3) lower proportion of degraded habitats. These findings can be taken into account in the conservation management of River Rába

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