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Data from: Spatiotemporal variation in disturbance impacts derived from simultaneous tracking of aircraft and shorebirds

Cite this dataset

van der Kolk, Henk-Jan et al. (2020). Data from: Spatiotemporal variation in disturbance impacts derived from simultaneous tracking of aircraft and shorebirds [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Assessing impacts of disturbance over large areas and long time periods is crucial for nature management, but also challenging since impacts depend on both wildlife responses to disturbance and on the spatiotemporal distribution of disturbance sources. Combined tracking of animals and disturbance sources enables quantification of wildlife responses as a function of the distance to a disturbance source. We provide a framework to derive such distance-response curves and combine those with disturbance source presence data to quantify energetic costs of disturbance at a landscape scale. 2. We tracked 90 Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus and all aircraft in a military training area in the Dutch Wadden Sea. We quantified distance-response curves estimating flight probability and additional displacement for five types of aircraft activities, by comparing bird movement prior to aircraft presence with movement during aircraft presence. We then used the distance-response curves to map mean and variation in additional daily energy expenditure due to cumulative aircraft disturbance across the landscape for a 700-day period. 3. Flight probability and displacement responses differed strongly among aircraft activities and decreased from transport airplanes, through bombing jets, helicopters, jets to small civil airplanes. Since the most disturbing aircraft activities were also the rarest ones, mean additional daily energy expenditure did not exceed 0.25%. However, days with substantial (>1%) additional expenditure occurred between 0.1% and 3.7% of all days across high tide roosts in the tidal basin. Notably, expenditure particularly spiked on days with transport airplane activity (up to 8.5%). 4. Synthesis and applications. Cumulative energetic flight costs due to aircraft disturbance are low and unlikely to impact survival of oystercatchers in our study area. Our results provide evidence that the legal minimum flight height of 450m for small civil airplanes effectively limits disturbance of oystercatchers. Mitigation should focus on limiting the number of days when disturbance has a high impact by reducing rare but highly disturbing activities, especially transport airplanes. Our approach can be applied to other species and disturbance sources that are automatically tracked, e.g. boats and walkers, ultimately to quantify the entire anthropogenic disturbance landscape.


See main article for how data was collected and processed.

Usage notes

The dataset contains data on oystercatcher-aircraft interactions and raster files for the estimated additional daily energy expenditure due to aircraft disturbance.

Oystercatcher-aircraft interaction data files. There is a separate file for interaction data for each combination of aircraft type and measurement duration. These are the following nine files: Civil_96s.csvCivil_10m.csvJet_10m.csv, Jet_1h.csvBombingJet_10m.csvBombingJet_1h.csv, Helicopter_1h.csv, Transport_10m.csv, Transport_1h.csvinteraction_column_description.csv contains a description of each column in these data files. 

Maps for additional daily energy expenditure. Two files contain the estimates for additional daily energy expenditure (DEE). Raster_DEE_StudyArea.csv contains estimates for the average additional daily energy expenditure (in %) for each aircraft type in the study area for the whole study period, and is the data underlying Figures 6a-f and 7. Raster_DEE_Civil_JulySeptember2018.csv contains estimates for the average additional daily energy expenditure (in %) for small civil aircraft in the whole Dutch Wadden Sea for July-September 2018, and is the data underlying Figure 6g. Both files are raster files where RDS_x and RDY_y are the x and y coordinates of the middle point of grid cells with a size of 200x200m. The coordinates are in the Dutch Amersfoort / RD coordinate system (EPSG:7415), where one unit is one meter. 

Please contact the authors for any requests on the data of aircraft tracks and military aircraft presence, which cannot be made publicly available. 


Technology Foundation STW, Award: 14638