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Bourg-en-Bresse, France

Gayet G.,9 rue du 4 septembre | Matthieu G.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Francois M.,CNRS Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology Marine and Continental | Herve F.,CNRS Biometry and Evolutionary Biology Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2013

This is essential to understand habitat selection by wildlife to manage habitats and populations. Studying the annual use of aquatic habitats provides information on how to manage wetlands for waterfowl, and to predict possible detrimental effects associated with extended usage by these birds. This is particularly important for species like the mute swan (Cygnus olor Gmelin), given its recent dramatic demographic expansion, causing concern in both Europe and America. We studied the extent of usage (swan.days.ha-1) of habitat patches by mute swans in a heterogeneous and fluctuating fishpond landscape. We assessed seasonal differences of swan usage of fishponds, annual variation for a given fishpond, and determined which habitat factors drive swan usage over the year. The seasonal use pattern was regular: a similar proportion of fishponds was used heavily, moderately or lightly in all seasons. Flocking throughout the year and breeding during summer were associated with heavy use of fishponds, i.e. large number of swan.days.ha-1. Flocking on some fishponds during several successive seasons demonstrated that some waterbody provide valuable habitats over time for swans. However, swans did not use individual fishponds to the same extent each season, mostly depending on the fluctuating ecological requirements of swans and variation in habitat properties. Agricultural practices on fishponds drastically affected swan usage during autumn and winter: formerly dried fishponds were used preferentially once reflooded. The specific agricultural crops used during the drought period had no influence though. The large-sized fishponds and fishponds within a dense network of waterbody were the most heavily used by swans throughout the year. Our results may thus be helpful to predict and prevent possible habitat damage by swans. They also provide information on habitats that are valuable for waterfowl species in general, by using mute swans as a proxy for waterfowl requirements. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Gayet G.,9 rue du 4 septembre | Eraud C.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Benmergui M.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Broyer J.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | And 4 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2011

A number of native and exotic animal species show dramatic population increases in terms of both numbers and geographic range. Understanding the habitat selection processes behind such increases is crucial to implement adequate management measures. Mute swan (Cygnus olor) populations have experienced a tremendous demographic and geographic expansion in Western Europe during the twentieth century, colonizing a wide variety of aquatic habitats. We aimed at assessing how swans select nesting sites during the pre-laying and laying periods on medium to large fishponds (from 10 to 50 ha) in Eastern France, while accounting for detectability biases and testing for the effects of fishpond spatial configuration, vegetation resources, human disturbance and habitat management. Our results demonstrate that the mute swan is a non-selective species regarding its nesting habitat among such fishponds, using these independently from the parameters considered although fishpond characteristics varied. Although mute swan is one of the least cryptic Anatidae, owing to its white colour and large size, detection of breeding pairs remained imperfect for each over several sampling occasions. However, because we repeated the sampling sessions, detection of swan pairs by the end of the monitoring period was as high as 0. 94. These results are consistent with previous assertions that the mute swan is a species of high ecological plasticity, which may partly explain its recent colonization rates. Given that even swan breeding events were imperfectly detected on each occasion, we highlight the fact that most studies of breeding ducks (which are more cryptic) would be considerably improved by better considering detection biases. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Gayet G.,9 rue du 4 septembre | Guillemain M.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Mesleard F.,La Tour du Valat | Mesleard F.,University of Avignon | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2011

The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is a protected species whose population has shown a dramatic demographic expansion over the last decades in France. Today, Mute Swans are suspected of causing damages to wetlands, partly through their territorial behaviour towards other waterbirds. The behaviour of Mute Swan pairs and the distribution of other waterbirds was monitored over 84 fishponds in the Dombes, Eastern France, from April to July 2008. Interspecific aggressive behaviours by Mute Swan pairs were not detected during behavioural observations, and no negative impact of swan pair presence was demonstrated on waterbird distribution. Waterbirds were more abundant on fishponds where Mute Swan pairs were present, maybe due to the flocking of waterbirds where Mute Swans were established owing to shared habitat preferences. Indeed, the waterbirds whose presence was the most closely correlated to that of Mute Swan pairs were Coot (Fulica atra), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Red-Crested Pochard (Netta rufina), all foraging on deep macrophyte beds as do the swans. All these species, including swans, may therefore be attracted to the same fishponds without massive interspecific competition occurring, due to abundant submerged aquatic vegetation resources. © 2010 Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. Source

Gayet G.,9 rue du 4 septembre | Guillemain M.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Benmergui M.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Mesleard F.,La Tour du Valat | And 5 more authors.
Oikos | Year: 2011

Foragers in patchy environments do not only select sites for single patch characteristics, but also have to consider the local environment of such patches. We studied habitat selection by mute swans Cygnus olor in a wide and heterogeneous fishpond region (the Dombes, eastern France). In this study, we considered fishpond isolation, resource quality within fishponds and breeding status of mute swans during both summer and winter. Mute swans did not select aquatic habitat randomly within the landscape. During summer, the population spread preferentially on medium to large fishponds, in subregions with numerous or closely related waterbodies, without generating a clumped distribution of birds. In addition to a positive effect of local fishpond number (2 km radius), breeding birds also responded positively to fishpond size. Non-breeders selected fishponds mainly according to their size. Intraspecific territoriality did not appear to limit the presence of non-breeders (i.e. moulting flocks), since both breeders and non-breeders could coexist on the larger fishponds. During winter, mute swans used medium to large reflooded fishponds after summer drainage. The surrounding aquatic environment of fishponds played a minor role in determining flocking, compared to actual patch quality. Flocking occurred on large fishponds that had reflooded after having dried the summer before, whatever the agricultural cultivation practiced in the summer following drainage. The results suggest that geographical aspects should be taken into account when considering the potential impact of this expanding species within such ecosystems, and also in more general management policies dealing with aquatic habitats for waterbird populations. © 2011 The Authors. Source

Gayet G.,9 rue du 4 septembre | Guillemain M.,Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage | Fritz H.,CNRS Biometry and Evolutionary Biology Laboratory | Mesleard F.,La Tour du Valat | And 6 more authors.
Aquatic Botany | Year: 2011

The mute swan (Cygnus olor Gmelin) is one of the largest herbivorous waterbirds in the world. Its population increased dramatically over the last decades in Western Europe, leading to concerns about its potential impact on aquatic ecosystems. Indeed, swan consequences on fishponds remain poorly investigated, although fishpond animal communities and economic value both largely depend on aquatic macrophytes. We carried out an experiment in the Dombes region (Eastern France) with 96 exclosures on 24 fishponds. Our aim was to assess the impact of swan grazing on aquatic macrophyte presence, abundance and community structure (diversity and evenness) during the growing season (April to July). We also considered the potential effect of swan stay (i.e. number of swan days ha-1) and nutrient availability on macrophyte depletion. Swan grazing negatively affected the presence and abundance (% cover) of macrophyte beds, particularly at high swan density. No significant effect on dry biomass was found. Furthermore, swan grazing negatively affected community structure, suggesting that mute swan promoted the dominance of a few species in macrophyte communities. Whatever the macrophyte variable considered, nutrient availability in fishponds did not affect macrophyte depletion rate. It is speculated that both the repeated use of the same fishponds by birds and their expansion within the landscape may lead to more acute and broader consequences for macrophyte beds over the longer term. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source

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