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Research on breeding shorebirds in hot subtropic desert in Dubai, UAE

Fieldwork in Arabian desert 2021

For the fourth year since 2018, intensive field data collection has taken place on breeding shorebirds in extremely hot desert conditions on the border of the tropics and subtropics in kind cooperation with the Natural Resources protection Section of Environment Department, Dubai Municipality, Government of Dubai. Currently, in March and June 2021, two expeditions to the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve took place, which were attended by the group leader, two researchers and four PhD students of the Behavioral Ecology research group.

In 2021, almost 200 nests of Red-wattled Lapwings and several dozen nests of other ground-nesting species were found. For most nests, the course of breeding was closely monitored: timing of breeding, reproductive effort (clutch size, egg size), nest site and habitat (breeding on lake islands or elsewhere in desert, use of tree shadow, distance from water etc.). Furthermore, the parents and nest owners were individually identified. If they were not marked from previous years, they were captured and marked with a unique color-ring code and chip for reading of their presence on the nest, nest site fidelity, breeding success and survival. The closely monitored nests were equipped with code readers, which allow detailed survey of incubation and other activities of birds on nests.

For the first time, we installed and tested a new device for long-distance transmissionof continuous incubation data from Dubai to Prague. Successful operation of this facility promises a groundbreaking step towards obtaining unique data on bird breeding in remote areas.

During the seasons 2020 and 2021, we experimentally evaluated the variation of aggressive behavior of Red-wattled Lapwings toward dummy predators. The lapwings showed different responses to mammalian and avian stuffs but males and females were similarly aggressive, including low proportion of mobbing in line with the prediction of milder aggression of birds breeding in (sub)tropics.

The photogallery shows the field work of the team in this project.

You can also listen to us in the coverage by the Český rozhlas broadcast:


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