MEPS 479:223-234 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10212

Role of disturbance, geology and other environmental factors in determining abundance and diversity in coastal avian communities during winter

Pedro Miguel Lourenço1,2,*, Paulo Catry1,2, Miguel Lecoq1,2, Ivan Ramírez3, José Pedro Granadeiro4

1Eco-Ethology Research Unit, Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA), Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal
2Museu Nacional História Natural e da Ciência, Universidade de Lisboa, Rua da Escola Politécnica 58, 1250-102 Lisboa, Portugal
3Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA), Avenida João Crisóstomo, n.º 18—4.º Dto. 1000-179 Lisboa, Portugal
4Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar (CESAM)/Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, Universidade de Lisboa, Rua da Escola Politécnica 58, 1250-102 Lisboa, Portugal

ABSTRACT: Wading birds are important predators in intertidal communities. Their ecology and distribution have been widely studied in estuarine wetlands, but little is known about the factors determining their abundance and diversity in the more common non-estuarine coasts. We analysed data from a large-scale survey of wader (Charadrii) populations in the non-estuarine coasts of Portugal (length = 1096 km), during winter, together with variables related to disturbance, habitat and geophysical characteristics of the coast to explain the patterns of wader abundance and diversity. The wintering community is composed of 13 species and dominated by ruddy turnstones Arenaria interpres and sanderlings Calidris alba. Wader abundance was limited by direct disturbance from humans and the presence of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Overall human presence, availability of rocky intertidal areas, presence of nearby estuarine wetlands and low winter temperatures favoured higher wader densities. Areas dominated by igneous and metamorphic rocks (basalts, granites, schists and greywackes, and diabases) harboured a more diverse wader community than areas with sedimentary rocks or with sandy beaches, suggesting that coastal geology may have a structuring role for wader communities, which had not yet been described. Understanding these patterns gives useful directions as to where one should focus conservation efforts in non-estuarine coastal areas.


KEY WORDS: Distribution · Geophysical variables · Human disturbance · Intertidal community · Non-estuarine coastline · Rocky shore · Wader


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Cite this article as: Lourenço PM, Catry P, Lecoq M, Ram?rez I, Granadeiro JP (2013) Role of disturbance, geology and other environmental factors in determining abundance and diversity in coastal avian communities during winter. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 479:223-234. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10212

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