Dartmoor conservation main

One of the study species. Image credit: Professor Charles Tyler

Crowd-funding launched to research and protect Dartmoor wildlife

A new crowd-funding initiative has been launched by a University of Exeter PhD researcher in a bid to secure backing to help expand their bird conservation research.

Funding received will cover expenses such as equipment, running costs and compensation for the volunteers that take unpaid leave to support the research.

Donations can be made via the crowd-funding website, which features various bonuses for the amount donated. All donations are accepted, but pledging as much as £30 will result in a pack of postcards with a sketch of a bird species, designed by a member of the group.

The project, run by the Dartmoor Upland Bird Nest Group, has been studying the breeding of ground-nesting birds for 8 years. The group have been studying the nests of several declining bird species in order to better understand their breeding, which is essential to inform conservation.

Each year the group, which consists of local bird enthusiasts, ornithologists and scientists from the University of Exeter, monitor up to 350 bird nests on the upland moors of Dartmoor National Park. They are looking to reach their target of £6000 to fund their fieldwork for 2016.

The fieldwork provides information on timing of breeding, breeding success and breeding requirements of the birds, enabling the researchers to understand breeding habits and inform appropriate conservation measures.

Sara Zonneveld, a University of Exeter ecologist, has been studying breeding and habitat requirements of ground-nesting birds in the Dartmoor area as part of her PhD.

Zonneveld said: “We are passionate about protecting the ecology of the Dartmoor uplands. It is a unique landscape home to a fantastic bird community. To ensure its conservation, we need to be able to understand the birds and their breeding behaviour.

“Some of the bird species in our study are showing national declines, which highlights the importance and relevance of our work. Funding will allow us to cover the cost of fieldwork and equipment such as bird rings, which help us monitor the growth and survival of the birds.”

For more information on the research, or to donate to the study visit the crowd-funding site.

Date: 22 January 2016

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