Woodland bird study system
Our field station SCENE on Loch Lomond is situated within one of Britain’s largest semi-natural forests, dominated by oak and other deciduous species (“temperate rainforest”).
At 57 N, this woodland is a high-latitude example of Atlantic oak forest, with characteristically high biodiversity, and is a designated “Special Area for Conservation”.
The woodland supports a high abundance of invertebrates, which in turn sustains high densities of woodland birds (up to 1500 breeding pairs per km2). The proximity to the state-of-the art facilities at SCENE provides an ideal background for studies of ecology, physiology and genetics of woodland species.
The study system
Over the last decade, we have developed an extensive system of nest boxes for hole-nesting songbirds (mostly Blue and Great Tit, Cyanistes caeruleus and Parus major).
We have placed almost 500 boxes in the woodlands around SCENE. The SCENE’s Bird Research Group has recorded annually the phenology data on bird breeding, tree bud-burst and caterpillar peak. In addition, we have established several techniques for remotely monitoring birds and their activities throughout the year.
This includes PIT tag readers in nest boxes and at bird feeders, radio-telemetry equipment and different ways of measuring body temperature. Further technical refinements are in piloting stages.
We access sub-sets of our nest boxes for experimental studies, for example on thermal biology, predation-starvation trade-offs, stress and parental behaviour, while leaving others untouched for inter-annual comparisons.
We can also use the nest boxes around SCENE in conjunction with nest boxes that have been placed in the city of Glasgow and at sites along this Dr Ross MacLeod.
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