Can aggregate quarry silt lagoons provide resources for wading birds?

Day, George; Mayes, William M.; Wheeler, Philip M. and Hull, Susan L. (2017). Can aggregate quarry silt lagoons provide resources for wading birds? Ecological Engineering, 105 pp. 189–197.



Wading birds have declined across Europe as the intensification of lowland agriculture has resulted in the loss and degradation of wetland areas. Lowland aggregate extraction sites that incorporate areas of fine, waste sediments deposited in silt lagoons have the potential to be restored for wader conservation. We set out to determine the potential value of silt lagoons to wading birds by comparing the water quality, sediment profiles, aquatic invertebrate abundance and diversity (prey availability) and wader site use at five sites representing various stages of active aggregate extraction and restoration for conservation purposes. Wader counts were conducted monthly over a twelve month period using replicated scan samples, and the invertebrate communities studied during the breeding and autumn migration season (June–September). Water quality variables were similar between sites, but sediments from active quarries were dominated by moderately sorted fine sands in comparison to the coarser sediment profiles of restored areas. June and September there was no significant difference in invertebrate diversity between sites, however richness was significantly lower on quarry sites and total abundance a factor of ten higher at restored sites than on silt lagoons, with the dominant taxa similar across all sites. Waders used all sites; albeit at lower abundance and richness on silt lagoons and two species were recorded breeding on active silting sites. We conclude that the fine, uniform sediments of modern silt lagoons limited invertebrate diversity and abundance, diminishing the value of silt lagoons to waders. Simple low-cost intervention measures increasing substrate heterogeneity and creating temporary ponds could increase invertebrate richness and abundance, and enhance the conservation potential of these sites.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions