Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Winter sports threaten indigenous European mountain birds, research finds

Date:
January 12, 2011
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
In the winter months, the mountain ranges of central Europe attract thousands of tourists for skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor sports, but conservationists fear this annual invasion may threaten indigenous bird species, including the Capercaillie. New research reveals how the growth of human recreation may be a key factor in the rapidly declining population of these iconic alpine birds.

A male capercaillie in the snow.
Credit: iStockphoto/Donald Shields

In the winter months, the mountain ranges of central Europe attract thousands of tourists for skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor sports, but conservationists fear this annual invasion may threaten indigenous bird species, including the Capercaillie. The research, published in the journal IBIS, reveals how the growth of human recreation may be a key factor in the rapidly declining population of these iconic alpine birds.

Related Articles


The Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), also known as the Wood Grouse, is the largest member of the grouse family and is renowned for its mating display. It is most commonly found in the alpine regions of Germany and Switzerland where its population has suffered a severe decline.

"Alpine habitats across Europe remained relatively undisturbed until the beginning of the last century, but today human outdoor recreation areas coincide with the winter habitats of many shy and endangered species," said lead author Dominik Thiel from the Swiss Ornithological Institute. "The Western Capercaillie has suffered rapid population declines during recent decades. However, little is known about their susceptibility to human recreation activities."

Dr Thiel's team monitored the populations of alpine Capercaillie in Germany and Switzerland close to recreation sites during two winter seasons. After analyzing 1130 samples of Capercaillie droppings the team found a marked increase in stress hormone levels closer to locations with winter recreation activity.

Capercaillie are expected to be particularly sensitive to winter tourism because during the winter months it is restricted to feeding on conifer needles which have a low nutrient content and are difficult to digest. This requires a long digestion time and results in a low rate of energy intake. Therefore any sudden energy expenditure, such as escaping from humans who will be perceived as predators, is costly.

"Winter is always the most energetically demanding season of the year for any species surviving in the mountains," concluded Thiel. "The fact that this coincides with intense human disturbance has clear physiological and behavioural implications for Capercaillie."

"We believe that Capercaillie are especially sensitive to winter recreation, and the risk for negative effects is high. The access of people to undisturbed Capercaillie winter habitats should therefore be prevented. Recreation activities should be kept away from core Capercaillie wintering areas, especially during the physiologically most demanding winter days."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dominik Thiel, Susanne Jenni-Eiermann, Rupert Palme, Lukas Jenni. Winter tourism increases stress hormone levels in the Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus. Ibis, 2011; 153 (1): 122 DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2010.01083.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Winter sports threaten indigenous European mountain birds, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111084137.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2011, January 12). Winter sports threaten indigenous European mountain birds, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111084137.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Winter sports threaten indigenous European mountain birds, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111084137.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins