|Institution:||Texas Tech University|
|Keywords:||Camera traps; Ground-breeding birds; Predators; Otis tarda; Enclosures|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/2346/58596|
Most of the endangered bird species in Germany are ground-breeding birds which live in farmland or meadow habitats. The most popular of these species is the nearly extinct Great Bustard, which has received federal protection from Germany and across Europe and serves as a flagship species for other ground-breeders. Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and fenced enclosures have been built to create a breeding refuge to increase reproductive success for the bustard, and subsequently other ground-breeding birds who reside in the same habitat. However, limited research has been conducted to investigate how these enclosures affect potential nest predators. The foremost goal of this study was to use the non-invasive camera trap technique to capture potential predator species both inside and outside of the enclosures, in order to determine the relevant species for implementing predator reduction or removal strategies. In order to determine which predator species pose the biggest threat to ground-breeding birds in these areas, 21 camera traps were set up inside and outside six enclosures for three months (August through October 2013) in order to monitor predator presence. Nine species of Carnivora [red fox (Vulpes vulpes), raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procy-onoides), European badger (Meles meles), Eurasian stoat (Mustela erminea), raccoon (Procyon lotor), housecat (Felis catus), stone marten (Martes foina), European polecat (Mustela putorius), and pine marten (Martes martes)] and four species of birds of prey [Corvids, Long-eared Owl (Asio otus), Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and Com-mon Buzzard (Buteo buteo)] were captured using the camera traps. Of these thirteen species, the most distributed were the red fox (52% of all 21 camera locations), Corvid species (48%), and raccoon dog (48%). The carnivore species that were observed inside the fences were Eurasian stoat (50% of 10 inside locations), stone marten (20%), and European polecat (10%). These six species have the most influence on ground-breeding birds surrounding the SPA enclosures, and should be the focus of predator removal or reduction methods. The use of camera traps for this study was highly successful for we were able to monitor predation activity 24-hours a day, extremely important when attempting to capture nocturnal predators.