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Title: Spacing behaviour of oystercatchers (Haemotapus ostralegus L.) in coastal and inland habitats
Author: Vines, Gail
ISNI:       0000 0001 3548 4621
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1976
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Spacing behaviour and the dispersion of oystercatchers in Aberdeenshire, Scotland was studied during 1973-76. During the winter months, October - January, oystercatchers fed in loose flocks on estuarine mudflats and musselbeds and fields adjacent to the Ythan estuary. The dispersion of these birds, described by nearest-neighbour measurements, varied greatly between habitats but was non-random in all study areas. The distances between participants in agonistic encounters and their nearest-neighbours were examined on musselbeds to study intra-specific aggression as a spacing mechanism, but most attacks did not appear to result from violations of individual distance. Rather, contests seemed to occur over food, and mutual avoidance appeared to be primarily responsible for the non-random dispersion. In summer, February - July, pairs of breeding oyster-catchers established territories, excluding other oyster-catchers. The spacing of nests was found to be non-random in both a low-density inland study area and a high-density coastal area adjacent to the estuary. Inland territories were approximately 10.5 times larger inland, and territorial aggression seemed to be the spacing behaviour responsible for the greater dispersion of inland nests. The aggressiveness of residents, as defined by characteristics of their behaviour in encounters with both natural and introduced intruders was similar at the nest and declined with increasing distance of the intruders from the nest in both habitats. But birds breeding in the coastal region were more aggressive at the edge of their territories than were inland birds. This difference may have been due to comparatively greater compression of territories in the coastal region by conspecific pressure, as intrusion rates were much higher in the coastal region.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available