Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Start educational programmes for personal watercraft owners

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

Study locations

Key messages

A before-and-after trial in the USA found that rates of disturbance by personal watercraft decreased and reproductive success of common terns Sterna hirundo increased following a series of educational programmes aimed at recreational boat users.


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 before-and-after trial from July-August in 1997-8 in the waterways surrounding a common tern Sterna hirundo nesting island in Barnegat Bay, USA (Burger & Leonard 2000), found that disturbance and reproductive costs caused by personal watercraft (PWC) disturbance significantly decreased after the implementation of educational campaigns in late 1997. The proportion of PWCs moving past the nesting island decreased from 60% in 1997 to 30% in 1998 and PWCs moved at significantly slower speeds. No PWCs went all the way around the nesting island in 1998. The number of terns displaced by PWCs significantly declined (from an average of 40 birds flying over the nesting island in 1997 to 20 birds in 1998). Fledging rate in 1998 was almost 1 chick/nest, similar to before PWC influx (pre-1996). The educational campaign was aimed at local PWC rental businesses and owners and signs were posted around tern nesting islands. 

    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?

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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