Modelling Hen Harrier Dynamics to Inform Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution: A Spatially-Realistic, Individual-Based Approach

Johannes P. M. Heinonen*, Stephen C. F. Palmer, Steve M. Redpath, Justin M. J. Travis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Individual-based models have gained popularity in ecology, and enable simultaneous incorporation of spatial explicitness and population dynamic processes to understand spatio-temporal patterns of populations. We introduce an individual-based model for understanding and predicting spatial hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) population dynamics in Great Britain. The model uses a landscape with habitat, prey and game management indices. The hen harrier population was initialised according to empirical census estimates for 1988/89 and simulated until 2030, and predictions for 1998, 2004 and 2010 were compared to empirical census estimates for respective years. The model produced a good qualitative match to overall trends between 1989 and 2010. Parameter explorations revealed relatively high elasticity in particular to demographic parameters such as juvenile male mortality. This highlights the need for robust parameter estimates from empirical research. There are clearly challenges for replication of real-world population trends, but this model provides a useful tool for increasing understanding of drivers of hen harrier dynamics and focusing research efforts in order to inform conflict management decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112492
Number of pages18
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2014


  • agent-based models
  • circus-cyaneus
  • sensitivity-analysis
  • population-dynamics
  • grouse moors
  • red grouse
  • management
  • conservation
  • Scotland
  • behavior

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