UK Whooper Swan numbers forecast to double by 2030
Numbers of Whooper Swans wintering in the UK are forecast to double by 2030, according to new research.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that nature reserves in low-lying coastal areas were key to the survival of migratory Whooper Swans. Furthermore, the swan is benefitting from undisturbed habitat and protection from predators.
Whooper Swan is increasing as a British wintering species (Glyn Sellors).
The researchers – led by the Universities of Exeter and Helsinki – analysed 30 years of data on more than 10,000 Whooper Swans across the UK. They found survival rates were significantly higher at nature reserves and this population growth was so strong that it boosted numbers elsewhere.
"The big message is that nature reserves can operate as very good protectors of wildlife," Prof Stuart Bearhop of the University of Exeter told BBC News. "If we could get 30% of the world protected, and protected in the right way, we are going absolutely in the right direction."
"Our findings provide strong evidence that nature reserves are hugely beneficial for Whooper Swans, and could dramatically increase their numbers in the UK," added study researcher, Dr Andrea Soriano-Redondo.
Providing the highest possible protection for the swan was key, such as fencing out foxes and other predators, avoiding farming methods that disturb the land and sighting the reserves away from hazards such as power lines.
Soriano-Redondo, A, Inger, R, Sherley, R B, & Bearhop, S 2023. Demographic rates reveal the benefits of protected areas in a long-lived migratory bird. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2212035120