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Are vehicles 'mobile bird hides'?: A test of the hypothesis that 'cars cause less disturbance'

journal contribution
posted on 2014-10-01, 00:00 authored by Patrick GuayPatrick Guay, E McLeod, A Taysom, Mike WestonMike Weston
We tested the 'cars cause less disturbance' hypothesis by comparing the flight-initiation distance (FID) evoked by a car versus a single walker for 38 species of waterbird (n = 657 standardised approaches). For the 15 species where we had sample size adequate for statistical testing (n ≥ 5), we found that cars elicited shorter responses after controlling for starting distance. Within-species analyses revealed that this difference was significant in 8 of 15 species. Although mean FIDs for car approaches were always shorter than FIDs toward single walkers in the remaining species (7), the tests in those species lacked sufficient power to draw meaningful conclusions. Our results provide support for the hypothesis that birds respond to cars at shorter distances. The wide taxonomic breadth of species investigated suggests that this principle may be broadly applicable, at least in waterbirds. The results of this study and the FID estimates we present will allow development of meaningful stimulus-specific buffer zones to protect waterbirds from disturbance.

History

Journal

Victorian naturalist

Volume

131

Issue

4

Pagination

150 - 156

Publisher

Field Naturalists Club of Victoria

Location

Melbourne, Vic.

ISSN

0042-5184

Language

English

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria

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