Bird poo study to help Britain’s Great bustards thrive31/12/2012 15:34:10 Great bustards diet key to their survival in UK
December 2012. Scientists at the University of Bath are studying the droppings of Great Bustards to help understand their diet and nutrition with the aim of boosting their survival in a conservation project to reintroduce the birds to the UK.
The reintroduction project has been regularly rearing chicks imported from Saratov, Russia and releasing them once they are fully fledged at a secret location on Salisbury Plain. For the first time this year, they have also successfully hatched chicks from eggs brought over from Russia.
As part of the conservation project, Scott Gooch and Dr Kate Ashbrook from the University of Bath LIFE+ project monitoring team have been collecting droppings of the released birds to monitor what they prefer eating and how their diet changes through the year.
Little known about diet
Understanding what the birds eat in the wild will help the development of targeted habitat management for Great Bustards in the UK.
Dr Ashbrook explained: "The success of this reintroduction project depends on whether there is enough food to support great bustards through the autumn and winter.
"We believe there is, but it is important to monitor their diet so we can ensure there is sufficient suitable habitat for them as the population grows, and to establish more through agri-environment management if needs be."