Publications for Dr David Douglas

Patterns of satellite tagged hen harrier disappearances suggest widespread illegal killing on British grouse moors

Identifying patterns of wildlife crime is a major conservation challenge. Here, we test whether deaths or disappearances of a protected species, the hen harrier, are associated with grouse moors, which are areas managed for the production of red grouse for recreational shooting. Using data from 58 satellite tracked hen harriers, we show high rates of unexpected tag failure and low first year survival compared to other harrier populations. The likelihood of harriers dying or disappearing increased as their use of grouse moors increased. Similarly, at the landscape scale, satellite fixes from the last week of life were distributed disproportionately on grouse moors in comparison to the overall use of such areas. This pattern was also apparent in protected areas in northern England. We conclude that hen harriers in Britain suffer elevated levels of mortality on grouse moors, which is most likely the result of illegal killing.

Date
19 March 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas
Authors
Murgatroyd, M. Redpath, S. M. Murphy, S. G. Douglas, D. J. T. Saunders, R. Amar, A.
Published in
Nature Communications
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Site-based adaptation reduces the negative effects of weather upon a southern range margin Welsh black grouse Tetrao tetrix population that is vulnerable to climate change

Climate change is an increasing threat to global biodiversity. Whilst there is growing evidence about the potential effectiveness of some aspects of climate change adaptation, the role for site-based management to increase the resilience of vulnerable populations to climate change has been little studied. Here, we test whether such management may reduce the negative effects of unfavourable weather upon a southern range margin Welsh black grouse Tetrao tetrix population that is vulnerable to climate change. The Welsh black grouse recovery programme funded a range of interventions that contributed to a 39% population increase over 10years. One likely mechanism linking black grouse populations to climate change is the sensitivity of chicks to high June rainfall. We modelled the relationship between June rainfall and management interventions which aimed to increase breeding success (habitat management and lethal predator control) to test whether management could increase the resilience of black grouse populations to such unfavourable weather. Importantly, we found that the negative effect of June rainfall upon productivity was eliminated at sites where predator control occurred, and that productivity was maximised when predator and habitat management were combined. Active management therefore reduced the negative effects of June rainfall upon this vulnerable southern range margin black grouse population, although further work is required to quantify any limits to the success of such management. Active management should be considered as a tool for climate change adaptation in other vulnerable populations, particularly where there is limited potential for species to undergo climate-driven range changes.

Date
07 February 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas
Authors
Pearce-Higgins, J. W. Lindley, P. J. Johnstone, I. G. Thorpe, R. I. Douglas, D. J. T. Grant, M. C.
Published in
Climatic Change
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Native woodland creation is associated with increase in a Black Grouse Lyrurus tetrix population

Capsule: Black Grouse population increases were greatest where new native woodland (NNW) within 1500m of leks comprised approximately 30% of land area and averaged 5 years old.Aims: To examine whether...

Date
03 January 2017
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas
Authors
Scridel, D., Groom, J.D. & Douglas, D.J.T.
Published in
Bird Study 64: 70-83
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Reply to comment on: Vegetation burning for game management in the UK uplands is increasing and overlaps spatially with soil carbon and protected areas

In their comment, Davies et al. (2015) question the use of MODIS to assess temporal changes in prescribed burning for grouse management, stating that MODIS “cannot detect” such burns...

Date
01 November 2016
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas, Dr Graeme Buchanan, Trevor Smith, Prof Jeremy Wilson
Authors
Douglas, D.J.T., Buchanan, G.M., Thompson, P., Smith, T., Cole, T., Amar, A., Fielding, D.A., Redpath, S.M. & Wilson, J.D.
Published in
Biological Conservation 195: 295-296.
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Environmental impacts of high-output driven shooting of Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica)

Recreational hunting of game birds and mammals is globally widespread (Loveridge et al. 2009). Habitat and predator management is sometimes undertaken to increase game abundance and hunting bags (e.g. Hudson 1992, Arroyo et al. 2012). This can have environmental...

Date
03 October 2016
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas, Dr Staffan Roos, Prof Jeremy Wilson
Authors
Thompson, P.S., Douglas, D.J.T., Hoccom, D.G., Knott, J., Roos, S. & Wilson, J.D.
Published in
Ibis 158: 446-452
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Changes in moorland and heathland bird abundance in southwest England in relation to environmental change

Capsule: Population changes of many moorland and heathland birds in southwest England show associations with environmental change, and the area supports notable breeding populations of species of conservation...

Date
03 October 2016
RSPB Authors
Dr Innes Sim, Dr David Douglas
Authors
Sim, I.M.W., Stanbury, A.J., Tománková, I. & Douglas, D.J.T.
Published in
Bird Study 63: 543-553
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Negative impact of wind energy development on a breeding shorebird assessed with a BACI study design

Previous studies have shown negative associations between wind energy development and breeding birds, including species of conservation concern. However, the magnitude and causes of...

Date
01 July 2016
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas
Authors
Sansom, A., Pearce-Higgins, J.W. & Douglas, D.
Published in
Ibis 158: 541-555
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The role of habitat change in driving black grouse Tetrao tetrix population declines across Scotland

Capsule Black Grouse declines across Scotland were greatest on less heterogeneous moorland, at low to intermediate altitudes and, more weakly, around post-thicket woodland...

Date
09 February 2016
RSPB Authors
Lucy Mason, Dr David Douglas
Authors
Pearce-Higgins, J., Wright, L., Grant, M. & Douglas, D.
Published in
Bird Study
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Vegetation burning for game management in the UK uplands is increasing and overlaps spatially with soil carbon and protected areas

Burning for habitat management is globally widespread. Burning over carbon-rich soils is a global environmental concern due to the potential contribution to climate change. In the UK upland heath and blanket bog, so-called 'moorland', often overlies carbon-rich soils, and has internationally important...

Date
01 November 2015
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas, Dr Graeme Buchanan, Prof Jeremy Wilson
Authors
Douglas, D.J.T., Buchanan, G.M., Thompson, P., Amar, A., Fielding, D.A., Redpath, S.M. & Wilson, J.D.
Published in
Biological Conservation 191: 243-250
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The relative importance of prey abundance and habitat structure as drivers of shorebird breeding success and abundance

Understanding large-scale drivers of animal breeding densities and demography has a range of important uses, including ...

Date
01 April 2014
RSPB Authors
Dr David Douglas
Authors
Douglas, D.J.T & Pearce-Higgins, J.W.
Published in
Animal Conservation
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