Keller, V. & P. Korner-Nievergelt (2019)

Effect of trophic status of a deep-water lake on breeding Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus during a phase of recovery from eutrophication.

Further information

Bird Study 66: 1–10



Capsule: Trophic status of a deep-water lake was the main driver of changes in breeding population size of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus while reproductive success was also strongly affected by weather parameters.
Aims: To determine the effects of changes in nutrient status of a formerly highly-eutrophicated deep-water lake and other environmental parameters on a Great Crested Grebe population during a phase of re-oligotrophication.
Methods: Annual surveys were carried out on a natural lake in Switzerland over a period of 25 years to determine breeding population size and reproductive success. The effects of phosphorus content, other limnological parameters and weather variables were analysed with quasi-Poisson models.
Results: The breeding population increased from 80 pairs in 1992 to 417 pairs in 2001, after which numbers showed strong fluctuations. Total phosphorus content in the lake had a strong negative effect on breeding population size. A significant positive correlation was found with the national population index. Reproductive success fluctuated strongly but showed an overall decline. The model indicated positive effects on reproductive success of phosphorus and negative effects of the number of days with strong wind. Rapid water-level increases in early summer and water transparency in June led to higher proportions of late broods.
Conclusion: Phosphorus concentration was identified as the main driver affecting the breeding population of Great Crested Grebes during the phase of recovery of the lake from a highlyeutrophic state. Results indicate that mesotrophic to eutrophic conditions enabled a large population and high breeding success. Reproductive output was further negatively affected by strong wind during a critical breeding phase..