Monday 22. April 2013

The Impact of Visitor Disturbance on Breeding Eider

[mynd 1 h]Tomorrow, Thursday April 23, Afra Skene will present her master's thesis in Coastal and Marine Management, titled The impact of visitor disturbance on breeding Eider (Somateria mollissima) populations at Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve: Implications for management, see further information in an abstract below. This is the first thesis presentation out of 10 that is scheduled the next couple of weeks at the University Centre. Afra Skene will present her thesis in room 1-2 at the University Centre at 16.00. The presentation is open to the public.

The thesis advisor is Ólafur Árnason, an instructor at the CMM program and director of planning at EFLA Consulting Engineers. The external reader is Dr. Bradley W. Barr, a visiting faculty at the CMM program.

In the next couple of weeks nine more thesis presentations are scheduled. And as the past few years their topics are very divers. We take pride in mentioning that many of the theses are on topics that have to do with the Westfjords or Iceland. For example a project on how seals interact with aquaculture, a project on the expansion of Lophius piscatorius in Iceland, the effect of water temperature on the feeding behavior of Arctic char, an analysis of risks and opportunities of oil prospects in the Dreki Area, an analysis of opportunities to make the harbor in Ísafjörður a yacht destination and the effect of marine debris on the Hornstrandir nature preserve. In addition to these "local" subjects two theses subjects are about topics that in Asia and Africa, one on the effect of government supported fish farming on farmers in the surroundings of Lake Victoria in Kenya and the other on optical monitoring of Pyrodinium bahmenese in Palawan, Philippines.
[mynd 2 h]
Abstract for The impact of visitor disturbance on breeding Eider (Somateria mollissima) populations at Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve: Implications for management
Managing the conflicts that occur between humans and wildlife is one of the primary concerns of reserve managers. As recreational use of the countryside increases, improving our understanding of disturbance impacts is vital in order to limit damage and to inform management of access on reserves. The aim of this study is to provide scientific advice to inform the management of visitors to Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve, Iceland. This study first investigates how the reserve is used by humans and the study species, common eider (Somateria mollissima). An experimental method is then used to establish Alert Distance and Flight Initiation Distance for incubating eiders. Historical data was also analysed to show longterm trends. These data were then used to estimate the potential impacts of disturbance under current management and advise future management. Nest distribution across the reserve was varied with a concentration in less disturbed areas and around the reserve's one fresh water source; historical data implies that distribution has changed over time. Results indicated that eiders at this stage of breeding are not very sensitive to disturbance with a maximum alert distance of 5.2m and 45% of birds showing no response. Sensitivity was found to be higher in less disturbed areas. The main conclusion of this paper is that, under current management, visitor disturbance is not likely to have a significant impact on incubating eiders on Dyrhólaey. Recommendations include the maintenance of buffer zones around key breeding areas and resources, encouragement of responsible access, and implementation of a monitoring program.