Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK.
Winter field use and habitat selection by Eurasian Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria and Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on arable farmland
Version of Record online: 5 MAR 2007
Volume 149, Issue 3, pages 509–520, July 2007
How to Cite
GILLINGS, S., FULLER, R. J. and SUTHERLAND, W. J. (2007), Winter field use and habitat selection by Eurasian Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria and Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on arable farmland. Ibis, 149: 509–520. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2007.00677.x
- Issue online: 23 APR 2007
- Version of Record online: 5 MAR 2007
- Received 3 August 2005; revision accepted 23 December 2006.
Eurasian Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria and Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus winter in large numbers on Britain's farmland. Previous studies in mixed farming areas showed pronounced preferences for permanent pasture, but increasing numbers of plovers winter in eastern Britain where arable farmland dominates. We show that an area of intensive arable farmland supported significant numbers of both species from October to February in the absence of large areas of pasture. Habitat use varied seasonally as the habitats present changed. Throughout winter, use of cereal crops matched their availability: plovers selected harrow in early winter, sugar beet stubbles in midwinter and other crops in late winter. Pastures were rarely used at any time of the year. Flocks occupied only a fraction of the available fields, concentrating most in large fields with open boundaries and where manure had been applied. Daytime feeding was more likely during cold days after nights with a new moon, short duration of moonlight or low-intensity moonlight. These results show that plovers are currently able to utilize intensive arable farmland but future changes in management, such as cessation of manure applications and reductions in sugar beet cropping, could have detrimental effects.