Modelling small-scale dispersal of the Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus in a fragmented landscape

L. Bosschieter, P.W. Goedhart, R.P.B. Foppen, C.C. Vos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We studied dispersal of Great Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus, using a mark–resight model for dispersal. We assessed the relevance of ecological distance, defined as movement along reed edges, as opposed to straight line distance for predicting the distribution of dispersal. In a mark–resight study in the northern Netherlands, 1158 birds were ringed. 178 birds were resighted at least once, with 254 movements between known nesting locations in successive years. Dispersal was defined as movement between successive nesting sites, and modelled as an exponential function of ecological and geographical distances. To correctly model dispersal probabilities in the fragmented study area, the model discriminates between suitable habitat sections and intermediate gaps. Several nested models for dispersal were compared by means of the likelihood ratio test. Models incorporating ecological distance gave a better fit than models using geographical distance, although the difference was not large. To describe dispersal probabilities, combined models were necessary at both local and long distance scales, and separate models were needed for juveniles and adults. For a landscape without gaps, the parameter estimates of the best model can be interpreted as follows. An estimated 65% of the adult dispersal distances were within a close range of the previous nesting location with a mean ecological dispersal distance of 0.58 km. The remaining 35% had an estimated mean distance of 10.3 km. An estimated 39% of the juvenile movements were random over the study area. The remaining 61% had a mean dispersal distance of 3.1 km. These results suggest that there might be two dispersal strategies in the Great Reed Warbler. There is also an indication that adults disperse further when connectivity decreases. These findings indicate that dispersal of Great Reed Warblers is not random, but smaller dispersal distances are more likely than larger distances. This might result in a limited dispersal ability of the species over the fragmented landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-394
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • gap crossing decisions
  • breeding dispersal
  • metapopulation dynamics
  • agricultural landscape
  • seed dispersal
  • forest birds
  • habitat
  • conservation
  • movement
  • consequences

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling small-scale dispersal of the Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus in a fragmented landscape'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this