The value of ornithological research in the Białowieża primeval forest

Dr Marta Maziarz, University of Wrocław

Date: Wednesday, the 7th of February 2018 at 1PM, Cent Lecture Theatre 0142

Abstract: Human impact on natural environments is immense, particularly in the last millennium. Vast changes in natural landscapes due to human activity have had a significant effect on many animals, including forest birds. Some of them have survived by modifying their habits and adapting to these novel environments, but how successful have they been? To find out, we need to know what is their recent, but also what was their original behaviour, before their habitats were transformed by humans.

The primeval part of Białowieża forest is one of a few places where we can still observe animals in conditions in which they presumably have evolved and lived for thousands of years. This place gives a unique opportunity to ‘travel back in time’ and gain knowledge of the roots of animal behaviour in natural habitats.

The value of carrying out observations in these conditions was appreciated by prof. Ludwik Tomiałojć, who in 1975 initiated the ornithological research scheme in the strictly protected part of the Białowieża National Park. During this talk I will present the most important findings of the long-term study of the bird community in the forest. Also, I will show a few examples of our recent work on nest predation, which is a key factor driving the decisions of birds selecting their nest-sites. How much do these results differ from those obtained in human-modified habitats?