Research on the breeding grounds

Understanding drivers of decline and trialling conservation solutions

Because research so far has highlighted that reduced productivity associated with food shortages on their breeding grounds is the main cause of population decline in the UK, scientists from the RSPBs Centre for Conservation Science have been focussing effort on determining whether the provision of seed plots on farmland could increase the breeding success of turtle doves. This aspect of the project has the following objectives:

  • Determine whether turtle doves are disappearing from certain habitats or geographic areas.
  • Monitor nesting productivity and foraging habitat selection of turtle doves on farmland.
  • Trial and evaluate conservation management options aimed at increasing breeding productivity by providing a source of seed food in farmland.
  • Determine effects of trial management options on foraging behaviour and breeding productivity.

Additionally, because the disease trichomoniasis has emerged as a potential causes of decline, the RSPB supervised PhD has the following objectives:

  • Examine the prevalence and diversity of parasites infecting turtle doves on breeding and wintering grounds.
  • Assess the impacts of infection by the parasite Trichomonas gallinae on adult and nestling behaviour and survival.
  • Investigate presence of Trichomonas in the environment.