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Research Call

DAFM Reference


DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15/C/638 UCC, (BWI, Coillte) €199,882

Project Title:

Supporting Hen Harrier In Novel Environments

Project Coordinator:

Prof. John O'Halloran

Project Abstract

Hen harriers traditionally occupy open habitats but forest habitats are now important for nesting. However, research at University College Cork has demonstrated that this species may be subject to an ecological trap, where they are selecting habitats in which they can survive, but where habitat quality does not permit them to thrive. The proposed project builds on previous work on this species which evaluated habitat selection, the use of forested landscapes in relation to nesting, foraging and breeding success, and the interactions with wind energy development. It aims to provide support for practical site-focused planning and management measures that both increase the habitat value of forests for hen harriers and reduce the influence of pressures on hen harriers within forest-related habitats. This project aims to exploit large, archived datasets on hen harrier breeding ecology in Ireland, a large proportion of which has been collected by UCC as well as the latest 2015 survey data. We will investigate the relationship between hen harrier breeding success and forest management practises in the face of climate change. In addition, we will incorporate new data from a satellite tagging project (RaptorLife). This will yield valuable new flight path and ecological data, complementing the data collected using GPS tags on hen harriers since 2007 by UCC. Fieldwork will be conducted to address two gaps in existing knowledge; vulnerability to predation and the influence of clear-felling debris (brash) on habitat quality. We will also address three specific site-focused planning and management measures; 1) identify areas where forest removal may benefit hen harriers; 2) review current pressures to hen harriers using 2015 survey data and 3) conduct a meta-analysis of alternative mitigation measures to current Red Zones in place. Finally we will work with a well-established community group (IRD Duhallow) to disseminate findings both locally and nationally.

Final Report:

Not available yet.