Predicting the effect of disturbance on coastal birds


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Assessments of whether disturbance is having a deleterious effect on populations have often measured behavioural responses to disturbance and assumed that populations with a larger behavioural response are more susceptible to disturbance. However, there is no guarantee that the behavioural response to disturbance is related to the population consequence, measured in terms of decreased reproduction or increased mortality. Individual-based models, consisting of fitness-maximizing individuals, are one means of linking the behavioural responses to disturbance to population consequences. This paper reviews how individual-based models have been used to predict the effect of disturbance on populations of shorebirds and wildfowl at several European sites, and shows how these models could be improved in the future by incorporating a range of alternative responses to disturbance.