Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Control mammalian predators on islands for gamebirds

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

A single replicated and controlled study on two Swedish islands found that four species of gamebirds had larger broods, and more females had chicks, when predators were controlled. Two of the species also showed population-level responses.


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 replicated, controlled study on two islands (18 km2 and 23.5 km2) in the Gulf of Bothnia, Sweden between 1976 and 1984 (Marcstrom et al. 1988) found that gamebird brood sizes were significantly larger and a higher proportion of females had chicks over a four year period when predators were controlled, compared to when predators were not removed (with predator control: 5.5 chicks/brood, 77% of 378 hens had chicks; without predator control: 3.3 chicks/brood, 59% of 314 hens had chicks). . Species studied were capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, black grouse Tetrao tetrix, hazel grouse Bonasa bonasia and willow ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus, with adult capercaillie and black grouse counts increasing by 56-80% after predators had been controlled for two years, and counts at leks increasing by 166-174%. Predators (European pine martins Martes martes and red foxes Vulpes vulpes) were trapped and shot.

    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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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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