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Effect of human disturbance on survival rates of artificial eggs of Kittlitz's plover Charadrius pecuarius

Lakes Nakuru and Elmenteita, two soda lakes in western Kenya , are exposed to different degrees of disturbance, intense along the shorelines having an impact on its bird inhabitants. The impact of human and animal disturbance was assessed on artificial nests simulating those of the Kittlitz’s plover, Charadrius pecuarius. After a pilot survey on natural nests and breeding pairs, a total of 145 artificial were placed and followed for 28d, the period of natural incubation. Survival rates were estimated between sites of high and low disturbance in both lakes. Relative survival rate was 12.6 % at Lake Nakuru and 27.2 % at Lake Elmenteita . Flooding was the major cause of failure (42.8 % at Lake Nakuru and 62.6 % at Lake Elmenteia ). Subsequent analysis of disturbances excluded flooding and it was concluded that artificial nest survival differed between areas of different disturbance level. Off road driving was common at Lake Nakuru and human disturbance accounted for the highest loss of artificial nests (68.8% vs. 19.4% at Elmenteita). Loss of artificial nests to predation and trampling by herbivores was low at both lakes (trampling was highest at Lake Nakuru - 15.6 % and bird predation was highest at Lake Elmenteita - 16.1 %). Natural nests and chicks were absent from shorelines where artificial nest loss was highest, and tended to coincide with areas of higher artificial nest survival. Results suggest that human disturbance at Lake Nakuru has a negative impact on the Kittlitz’s plover breeding.

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Last updated: 06/01/06