Thursday 28 March 2019

Conservation Evidence

Conservation Evidence is a free, authoritative information resource designed to support decisions about how to maintain and restore global biodiversity. It summarises the results of studies that have tested a wide range of conservation interventions and also categorises each intervention according to whether this evidence demonstrates that they are likely to be beneficial, of unknown benefit or unlikely to be beneficial. There is also a Conservation Evidence journal, that publishes the results of studies that have tested the effectiveness of conservation interventions, and welcomes short articles from conservation practitioners.

14 nest boxes in St Mary’s church, Ely, UK
showing 4 boxes with nest forms and 1 box
without a nest form occupied by common
swifts. (click to enlarge)

On searching the Conservation Evidence website for the keyword "swift", there is just one paper, of unknown effectiveness, titled Provide artificial nesting sites for swifts - about Vaux's Swift.

All of the research in this country and in Europe does not seem to have resulted in anything documenting a conservation benefit for the Common Swift on the CE website.

So, encouraged by Prof Bill Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology in the department of zoology at Cambridge University, I wrote up the results of our experiments on placing nest forms in Swift nest boxes:

A test of the use of artificial nest forms in common swift Apus apus nest boxes in southern England

Dick Newell
Action for Swifts, Old Beach Farm, 91 Green End, Landbeach, Cambridge, CB25 9FD, UK

Common swifts Apus apus have shown significant declines in the UK over recent decades, and one possible cause is loss of nesting sites. Nest boxes have previously shown to be effective for this species. Here we test whether the addition of an artificial ‘nest form’ affected the occupancy of nest boxes. Nest boxes that contained a form were 4.6 times more likely to be occupied by common swifts than nest boxes without a form. The design of the form did not appear to affect occupancy rate. Further study is needed to discover whether nest forms increase overall occupancy rates.

You can access the paper here

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