Intensive management decreases the amount of disturbance to shorebirds but does not change shorebird behavioural response

  • Published source details Burger J., Jeitner C., Clark K. & N L.J. (2004) The effect of human activities on migrant shorebirds: successful adaptive management. Environmental Conservation, 31, 283-288


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use signs and access restrictions to reduce disturbance at nest sites

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Use signs and access restrictions to reduce disturbance at nest sites

    A replicated before-and-after study in 1982, 1987, 1992 and 2002 at 17 local beaches within Delaware Bay, USA (Burger et al. 2004) found that disturbance to shorebirds decreased markedly following intensive management intervention to control birdwatchers and crab collectors. Both the mean disruption rate and the mean time that shorebirds were disturbed increased during the 1980s when there were no restrictions or viewing platforms and then declined by 2002 after viewing platforms were constructed and beach access restrictions were enforced (5.6 disruptions/hour and 53 minutes disturbed/hour in 1987 vs. 0.4 and 3.6 in 2002). Fewer people were observed on the beaches after restrictions were enforced and only one bird watcher disturbed the birds in 2002. However, the percentage of disturbed shorebirds that flew away (and did not return within 10 min) did not change during the 1980s and increased in 2002. Observations were made on 12–20 days each year for 6–10 h per day.


Output references

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, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 17

Go to the CE Journal

Subscribe to our newsletter

Please add your details if you are interested in receiving updates from the Conservation Evidence team about new papers, synopses and opportunities.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust