About this blog
This blog was started by Paula and Juan while conducting wader studies in Ammarnäs, Swedish Lapland, and extended with work on Long-tailed Skuas by Rob at the same wonderful place. Since 2014, the start of Robs PhD project, it is extended with Slettnes, Northern Norway, where Ingrid et al. have been working on Arctic Skuas and Red-necked Phalarope. The aim of this blog is inform anyone interested about the wader and skua fieldwork and progress of the research conducted in Ammarnäs and Slettnes. Most news will be posted during the fieldwork season, but we hope to inform you on newly published papers as well.
You are all welcome to participate and comment!
Breeding waders have been studied intensively in north-western Europe during later decades and everywhere the pattern seems to be the same. Breeding success is extremely low (in general) and general predation pressure seems to have increased during the last decade or so. The result of this is that many “southern” populations of waders are now going down rapidly in numbers and are of high conservation concern. At the same time, very few studies have been made further north and it is hence very interesting to look into what the situation looks like for northern breeders to compare it with the southern ones.
During the last four years of study, we have found out that the northern birds from Ammarnäs seem to do fine and that breeding success is OK and predation pressure is relatively low, at least compared to southern areas. Support for this idea is among other things that population levels for most waders breeding in northern Sweden are stable or in a few cases even increasing. Our studies also show large variation between sub-areas and between different species, possibly related to differences in predator densities, habitats and other things.
Studies on nest success of breeding waders around Ammarnäs have been going on for six seasons (2008-2013) as part of the LUVRE-project (Lund University Vindel River Expedition – see www.luvre.org), a basically non-financed volunteer project running since 1963. From last field season 2011 we started to get into more detailed studies about the effects of territory quality on breeding success on the European Golden Plover relating food availability with habitat selection and describing development of chicks, diet and predation pressure, including chick survival. Another part of the project includes studies about how breeding and migratory performance affect each other.
To complete the team, Rob van Bemmelen focuses on the ecology of Long-tailed Skua, a species that depends heavily on rodent abundance for reproduction. In years with low rodent numbers they seem to be an important predator also of wader nests and chicks, hence its importance in their relationship with waders. In addition, their aggressive territory defense may be advantageous to waders breeding close by. The study of Long-tailed Skua is part of Robs PhD project on migratory connectivity in a set of Arctic long-distance migratory seabirds; the other species being Arctic Skua and Red-necked Phalarope. The aim is to map the migration of these species across a wide area around the North Atlantic. Therefore, Rob is collaborating with people studying the same species at several sites between Greenland and Yamal, Russia.