TRANSFORMATION OF BREEDING BIRDS OF THE LOWER OF DNIEPER UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ANTROPOGENIC AND NATURAL FACTORS

  • V. А. Busel National Park “Great Meadow”
Keywords: breeding birds, bird community, floodplain forest, wet and dry meadows, sandy ridges, rocks, floodplain of the Lower Dnieper, Kakhovske Reservoir

Abstract

In terms of growth of anthropogenic pressure and large-scale natural complexes transformations in the South of Ukraine the study of wildlife conservation is of particular relevance. Hydraulic engineering, land reclamation, forestation and intensive use of natural resources lead to changes in habitat of the number of animals and in particular nesting birds. The study of these processes is necessary for the development of methods for the protection of rare and endangered species at the regional and global level and to protect their habitats. Floodplain of the Lower Dnieper is very representative in this regard, since the construction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant led to the flooding of vast areas, which significantly affected the change in the species composition of birds as well as numbers and spatial distribution of many species. Regulation of flow and the construction of dams on small rivers are leading to irreversible processes, turning the lower reaches of the Dnieper River in a cascade of slowly flowing but huge reservoirs. Riparian forests and meadows were almost completely destroyed during very short time.

The chosen region is interesting in comparison to upper reservoir cascade. Here we have both natural floodplain below the Kakhovka Damand artificial Kakhovka Reservoir. By analyzing the development of the breeding bird communities in the area, we can predict changes in the breeding avifauna under the influence of anthropogenic and natural factors.

First to make such forecasts of the development of avifauna of the newly created Kakhovka Reservoir at the end of 1950 was P.P.Orlova (1959). But he mainly focused on forest and wetland species. Analysis of a new material is of great theoretical and practical scientific interest in the study of this issue.

 

The material which is the basis of research was collected by the author during 25 field seasons in 1992–2017. Colonial water birds were surveyed with the help of water transport. Thus we were able to observe both islands and several bays of Kakhovka Reservoir. The total route traveled by water transport was about 400 km. Air transport (helicopter MI-2) was used in 1998 and 2011 to explore the colonial settlements of birds on the islands of the Kakhovka Reservoir. Car routes were used to survey the coastline of both Kakhovka Reservoir and natural bank beneath the city of Nova Kakhovka. The total length of road routes during the study was about 13,000 km.

In 1999-2017 absolute count of waterfowl birds was conducted from observation spots and on routes. In total 350 km of routes in terrestrial habitats and 60 km²of reservoir’s area were surveyed. In 2007-2017 in most typical biotopes monitoring plots were chosen to calculate numbers and densities of breeding birds. This enables to study large areas with the help of limited number of plots.

Currently, nesting avifauna of the floodplain of the Lower Dnieper can be divided into two regions, which are fundamentally different both in its development and further formation. The first area we refer is the Kakhovka Reservoir, which is a relatively new large artificial reservoir of plain type, which is in the process of “maturation” that affects the future path of the breeding avifauna in the region. The second area is the marshes below the city of Nova Kakhovka represented mainly by trees and shrubs and wetland natural complexes. The area is ecologically less dependent on the negative factors of the hydrological regime of the Kakhovka Reservoir. As a result of artificial regulation of water level, small islands are sometimes flooded.

Kakhovka reservoir built in 1955-1957 years in the former of Konsko-Bazavlukskih and Gavrilovskih floodplains. At the present time it is at the stage of “stabilization and maturation”, which usually begins in this type of reservoir in 15-20 years after the flooding of the river valley. At this time, it is characterized by relatively stable bird communities that differ from those that existed before creation. Their foundation is the elements of wetland and wetland complex, which are dominated by species with high ecological plasticity.

Active coastal erosion is one of the primary factors that affect the further development of the Kakhovka Reservoir.The causes for this is the shallow and large reservoir and geological structure of the bank. Seasonal storms change topography and structure of the coastal strip, which limits nesting possibilities for birds. Currently, in some areas there is a tendency for the relative stabilization and the completion of these processes, but such portions comprise at least 10 % of the total reservoir coastal line.

Different natural complexes used by birds in the floodplain of the Lower Dnieper were distinguished into 6 main types: tree-shrub, wetland, meadow complexes, sand spits and ridges, clay slopes and precipices, and also rocky outcrops. Since the 19th century, in the course of action of anthropogenic and natural factors, 15 species stopped breeding in the floodplain of the Lower Dnieper, and 17 new bird species appeared. Breeding of the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Merganser (Mergus albellus), Stock Dove (Columba oenas), Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), and Tree-creeper (Certhia familiaris) should be considered as relic bird populations cut off from their main range.

Processes of intensive economical activity entailed degradation of a meadow natural complex in the late 1940s - middle of 1950s and contributed to invasion of birds belonging to a steppe type of habitats, not typical to the Lower Dnieper floodplain. These species were Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Short-toed Lark (Calandrella cinerea), Skylark (Alauda arvensis), and Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), which had been breeding there until the area was flooded in 1956. The most essential factors influenced on changes in avifauna in the Lower Dnieper floodplain were water engineering, dyke building on small rivers, development of a coastal part of the Dnieper Delta and increase of recreational pressure in the spring-summer season.

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How to Cite
BuselV. А. (1). TRANSFORMATION OF BREEDING BIRDS OF THE LOWER OF DNIEPER UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ANTROPOGENIC AND NATURAL FACTORS. Bulletin of Zaporizhzhia National University. Biological Sciences, (2), 12-20. Retrieved from http://journalsofznu.zp.ua/index.php/biology/article/view/91