The Turtle Dove is in rapid decline, also in The Netherlands. There are various plausible causes for this unprecedented decline in most of Western Europe. Research points out the detrimental impact of our modern farmland practices. But what do our Turtle Doves encounter in their wintering quarters in Africa? And does hunting play a decisive role? Or could it even be that an outbreak of the Trichomonas disease is giving them the final blow?
In order to know the potential impacts of these various causes and their relative contribution we started a research project with a master student at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Our aim is to develop a matrix population model based on the best available ecological and demographical information. Although we acknowledge that we are currently lacking a lot of the required demographic parameter values, we still think it is valuable to develop such a modelling approach. Besides the fact that we have no time to lose and should use every opportunity there is to analyse the existing data in an integrative way we also think that even with incomplete data we can get meaningful outcomes of a model. By exploring the model, using alternative scenarios, we hope to be able to point at those pressure factors that are most closely related to the decline. With this modelling exercise we hope to inform conservation research and to contribute to a future research agenda.
Master student Lisenka de Vries
Supervisors: Eelke Jongejans (Radboud University, Nijmegen), Ruud Foppen (Sovon Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology)