Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Protect nests from livestock to reduce trampling

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • A before-and-after study from the Chatham Islands, New Zealand found that the population of Chatham Island oystercatcher increased following several interventions including the erection of fencing around individual nests.
  • A replicated, controlled study in Sweden found that no southern dunlin nests were trampled when protected by cages; some unprotected nests were destroyed.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A study in the Chatham Islands from 1999 to 2005 (Moore 2005) found that the number of  Chatham Island oystercatcher Haematopus chathamensis pairs in a 14 km stretch of coastal land increased from 16 to 35 within six years, following several interventions including erecting 10 x 10 m enclosures of 1 m high electric fencing around individual nests to reduce disturbance and trampling by livestock. Other interventions used are discussed in the relevant sections.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study between 1999 and 2004 on pastures in southwest Sweden (Pauliny et al. 2008) found that none of 77 southern dunlin Calidris alpina schinzii nests protected with cages were trampled by cattle, whereas 31 of 291 unprotected nests (11%) failed because of grazing livestock. Cages were 20 cm high truncated cones with 7.5 cm gaps between vertical bars and 4 x 4 cm steel mesh covering the top. The effect of cages on predation of nests and adults is discussed in ‘Threat: Invasive alien and other problematic species”.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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