Wetland habitats have declined across Europe in recent decades and this has had a significant effect on populations of many lowland birds. Aggregate extraction sites produce fine sediments deposited in lagoons and these provide potentially ideal foraging habitats for wading birds: the silty muds should support significant populations of the freshwater invertebrates that make up their diet, potentially making up for losses in their habitat elsewhere. Our project aims to discover how the characteristics of these sediments affect their value as foraging habitat for wading birds. We are studying the physical and chemical properties of sediments, the invertebrates that live in them and their use by birds to find out what makes good feeding habitat for these birds. We plan to produce practical recommendations for the improved management of these sediments so that quarry managers are able to increase the biodiversity value of silt lagoons.

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