Disturbance increases high tide travel distance of a roosting shorebird but only marginally affects daily energy expenditure

H. Linssen (Corresponding author), M. Van de Pol, Andrew Allen, M Jans, B.J. Ens, Karen Krijgsveld, M. Frauendorf, H. van der Kolk

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Background: Anthropogenic disturbance can negatively affect an animal's energy budget by evoking movement responses. Existing research focuses mainly on immediate displacement as a disturbance effect, since this can be easily observed in the field. However, effects on movement over longer timescales are poorly examined and it is largely unknown if and to what extent they reflect immediate responses. Longer-term responses could for example be larger than immediate responses if birds, after disturbance, return to the original location and thereby travel twice the immediate disturbed distance. Methods: We combined GPS tracking data with observational data to quantify the effects of anthropogenic (air force and walkers) and non-anthropogenic disturbances on distances travelled by roosting Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) during the non-breeding season. We compared immediate displacement after a disturbance with distance travelled during the entire high tide period (longer-term response), while accounting for environmental factors. Additionally, we calculated energy expenditure due to disturbance based on observed disturbance frequencies. Results: Disturbance resulted in an immediate displacement response of ~ 200 m (median). Air force disturbances tended to yield larger immediate responses than walker and, especially, than non-anthropogenic disturbances. Longer-term responses and immediate responses were approximately similar, suggesting that, over longer timescales, spatial disturbance effects in the study area remain confined to immediate effects. However, disturbances were infrequent (0.17 disturbances per bird per hour) and most disturbances were of natural origin (62%). Consequently, anthropogenic disturbance of roosting oystercatchers in the study area on average costs 0.08% of the daily energy expenditure. Conclusions: Our results suggest that immediate spatial responses to disturbance can be a useful proxy for spatial responses over longer timescales. Over the non-exhaustive range of conditions investigated, energetic consequences of spatial disturbance responses for an oystercatcher in the study area are marginal due to low disturbance levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalAvian Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019


  • Biologging
  • Disturbance
  • Haematopus ostralegus
  • High tide roost
  • Movement ecology
  • Shorebird
  • national
  • Plan_S-Compliant_OA


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