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Absence of effects of predator control on nesting success of Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus: implications for conservation


Corresponding author.


The control of generalist predator populations is increasingly adopted as a management tool to combat declines in ground-nesting bird populations. However, compensatory predation by uncontrolled species frequently occurs, so determining the relative impacts of different predatory species, and hence the relative benefits of their control, can be difficult. Islands, with their reduced faunas, provide natural experimental units for investigating specific predator–prey interactions in detail. We studied Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus breeding success on an island where feral Ferrets Mustela furo and Hooded Crows Corvus cornix were subjected to trial control regimes over 2 years. In both years, Lapwing hatching success was >80%, with neither Ferret nor Crow control selected as important predictors. Fledging rates in both years were 0.7 young per pair, despite highly effective predator removal, although Crow control potentially resulted in compensatory predation by Common Ravens C. corax. Neither mustelid nor corvid control produced significant immediate benefits for Lapwings. This suggests that mesopredator release of mustelids in mainland situations is unlikely to be a consistent threat to Lapwing, and provides further evidence that declines in this species are unlikely to be tackled successfully through predator management alone.

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