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The Impact Of Water Sports On Heron Behavior During Non-Wintering Season In Austria's Danube Floodplains National Park

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Author(s): S. Wagner | P. Sterl | A. Arnberger

Journal: Wildlife Biology in Practice
ISSN 1646-1509

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 60;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Canoeists | Distance of flight | Grey heron | Silver heron | Video monitoring | Visitor survey

ABSTRACT
Austria's Danube Floodplains National Park is a prime example for management issues in a protected area with high recreational use. This study focuses on the disturbances of grey herons (Ardea cinerea) and silver herons (Casmerodius albus) caused by canoeists, which were inventoried using standardized ecological observation techniques by measuring the distances of flight. Survey data about the canoeists' characteristics and their awareness of their disturbance on the avifauna were obtained from on-site interviews, conducted when canoeists were leaving the area. Video-monitoring was undertaken to provide long-term quantitative data about use levels and temporal distribution of the canoeists. The observation data of herons' reactions were interlinked with visitor use data to analyse the impacts of recreational use on the avifauna. The distances of flight were influenced by the use levels of canoeists, the habitat quality of the area where herons were observed, and the time of the day. Two-thirds of the interviewed canoeists were not aware of the negative anthropogenic impact on the avifauna.
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