The Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) is the United Kingdom’s most threatened wader and is arguably the UK’s highest conservation priority species, due the global importance of the UK breeding population and the 48% decline it has experienced in the last 20 years.

Curlew population declines in the UK have been attributed to low breeding productivity, caused mainly by conversion of suitable habitat to agriculture and increased abundance of generalist predators. Curlews are well studied in the UK uplands and evidence-based conservation strategies have been implemented to increase breeding productivity in these areas. However, lowland curlew populations have received relatively less attention and persist with unsustainably low breeding productivity.

Working in collaboration with the BTO and RSPB, I will use an evidence-based approach to develop conservation management strategies, designed to increase breeding productivity and help reverse the decline of lowland curlew populations, in the UK.

I will use the Brecklands as my study area, which hosts the UK’s largest population of lowland breeding curlew. Using a variety of fieldwork techniques to survey and monitor this population, I aim to gain an in depth understanding of the breeding and habitat requirements of lowland curlews. This information can then be used to develop, implement and trial different evidence-based conservation strategies, with the aim of deployment at other lowland hotspots. 

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