JULY 30, 2019
by Jessi Adler And Elise Zipkin, Michigan State University
Imagine your favorite beach filled with thousands of ducks and gulls. Now envision coming back a week later and finding condos being constructed on that spot. This many ducks in one place surely should indicate this spot is exceptionally good for birds and must be protected from development, right?
It depends, say Michigan State University researchers.
In a new paper published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, scientists show that conservation and construction decisions should rely on multiple approaches to determine waterbird "hotspots," not just on one analysis method as is often done.
"Waterbirds can move far in a short time, and they also are known to aggregate in clusters of hundreds or even thousands," said Elise Zipkin, MSU integrative biologist and study co-author. "Just because there are many birds in a particular location at a particular time, doesn't necessarily mean the location is a hotspot. It is important to distinguish whether that location is used repeatedly by the birds or if it is just a one-off use."