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Fokker KC & Godijn N (2024) Breeding biology and habitat use of Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus in arable farmland. LIMOSA 97 (1): 12-25.

About a quarter of the Dutch population of the Northern Lapwing is breeding in arable farmland, but the majority of Northern Lapwing studies have been conducted in grassland dominated landscapes. Thus, little is known about the biology of these ‘arable Northern Lapwings’ in the Netherlands. Currently, the Northern Lapwings is still a relatively abundant breeding bird in arable farmland, but numbers have declined by about 50% in the past 30 years.
We monitored numbers and breeding success in a small population in an arable landscape (600 ha) in 2016-22. In 2019-21 we intensively followed individual clutches (n=180) and families (n=91). Thanks to marking nests (protecting nests against farming activities), the hatching success was 65%, but the overall breeding success was only about 20%. This is too low for a stable population. Perhaps the breeding success on arable land has never been high, but historical numbers are lacking.
Our findings suggest that there is a bottle-neck in the survival of the chicks during the first week after hatching. Replacement clutches performed better than first clutches, which is opposite to previous research in grassland. It remains unclear why chick survival was too low. Predation and weather played only a minor role in the loss of chicks. We have some indication that there is a food shortage, although the condition of the chicks was better than reported for grassland. A more detailed study on habitat use, for example by tracking individual chicks using radiotransmitters, is needed to work out the causes for the bottle-neck in the survival of young chicks in arable farming landscapes.

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limosa 97.1 2024
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