E+E Testing and Development Project Habitat Conservation and Restoration for the Globally Threatened Aquatic Warbler using Novel Approaches in Wet Grassland Management in the Lower Oder Valley National Park - Accompanying Research -


The accompanying reasearch to the E+E project provides technical support and an assessment of the effectiveness of the measures developed and implemented by the main project to protect and improve habitats of meadow breeding birds in Lower Oder Valley National Park.

In addition, it scientifically documents the results and their transferability to other regions.

The main project (2011-2014) has three main objectives:

  • To develop at least 200 ha of Aquatic Warbler habitat through improving water levels and implementing rotational mowing in polder 5/6 as a stepping stone to the neighbouring Polish breeding site
  • To maintain and improve the typical mosaic of habitats of meadow birds such as Aquatic Warbler, Corncrake and Redshank and alluvial meadows of the Cnidion dubii through rotational land use with adjusted mowing dates, unmown refuge stripes, and newly established alluvial meadows
  • To assess the costs of rotational mowing and to develop financial mechanisms for securing such land use after the end of the project in Lower Oder Valley and in other SPAs

 There accompanying research (2012-2015) focuses on are four main areas of research:

  • Assessment of the development of water regime and vegetation in polder 5/6 after rewetting
  • Recommendations about meadow breeding birds and grassland management in polders A/B
  • Recommendations about Cnidion meadows and grassland management in polders A/B
  • Proposals for funding instruments.

Project area

The project is implemented in The Lower Oder Valley National Park. Here, in the polders between Lunow and Gartz/Oder, both target habitats to be mainatained and sites where such habitats could be created can be found. The park has national importance as Aquatic Warbler and Corncrake habitat and comprises large areas of alluvial meadows with typical floodplain species.
  Homepage of the National Park "Unteres Odertal"


Dr. Franziska Tanneberger (Coordination)

Dr. Magdalena Wojciechowska (Vegetation studies)

Susanne Arbeiter (Bird studies; based at the Institute of Zoology and Zoological Museum, group of Prof. Dr. Klaus Fischer)

Project duration


Supported by

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Homepage of BfN


Project partners

The accompanying research closely cooperates with the main project and its partners.

Project results

In 2012 the main areas of work were purchase of equipment, testing of methods (especially for catching and radio-tracking female corncrakes), and data collection before rewetting (polder 5/6) and before diaspore transfer (polder A), respectively. Donor and receiver sites for Cnidion diaspore transfer were identified. The use of protecive stripes excluded from mowing by female corncrakes was demonstrated using radio-tracking for the first time. An initial data analysis yielded first important insights and contributes to sharpening the research objectives for the coming year.

In 2013 we completed the vegetation data of polder 5/6 before implementation of the rewetting measures and enlarged the database for this polder. We identified additional potential Cnidion receiving sites based on elevation and site conditions in polder A. We studied the results of Cnidion species diaspore transfer at five transects and documented successful establishing of Cnidion species. The methods for corncrake catching and marking were improved. In total, we radio-tracked two females and four juveniles. Unfortunately, we experienced further problems with transmitter durability. In 18 protection stripes, we caught (in 30 catching attempts) seven corncrakes (four adults and three juveniles). We documented later use of protection stripes by six corncrakes.


Vegetation structure assessments at the Aquatic Warbler breeding site Krajnik, located opposite of polder 5/6 on the eastern banks of Odra river, indicate no further deterioration of habitat conditions and currently suitable breeding conditions. In 2014 in total 21 corncrakes (13 males, four females, four juveniles) were caught and of those 19 corncrakes (12 males, four females, three juveniles) were radio-tracked. The dataset 2012-2014 comprises 30 broods and phenological data could be derived. 20% of the broods start in mid June, and 10% only between mid and end of July. The observations made in 2014 underline the effectiveness of protective stripes. Both adults and juveniles use them as a refuge during mowing and survive there. On the Cnidion transfer transects recruitment of the eight Cnidion species was variable and can be explained by different vegetation structure. Best results could be obtained on transects with the highest proportion of bare soil. Highest recruitment could be observed for Cnidium dubium and Sanguisorba officinalis seeds. Five of the eight Cnidion species used in seed transfer established on the transfer transects. A comparison with Cnidion sites in Polish Lower and Middle Odra underlines the high quality of the Cnidion donor sites in polder 10 and the variable suitability of sites in polder A and B as potential Cnidion sites.


Results of the final project year will be soon published in the final report.


  • Arbeiter S, Helmecke A, Franke E, Sadlik J, Haferland HJ, Tanneberger F & Bellebaum J (2013) Die letzten 10 Meter für den Wachtelkönig – Mahd mit Schutzstreifen im Nationalpark Unteres Odertal. Vogelwarte 51: 270-271.

  • Tanneberger F, Bellebaum J, Helmecke A, Minets M (2013) Nesting and foraging characteristics of the strongly declining Aquatic Warbler population in Pomerania. Acta Ornithologica 48: 109-118.

  • Bellebaum J, Tanneberger F & Haferland H-J (2014) Wasser und Wiesen für neuen Lebensraum – Seggenrohrsänger im Nationalpark Unteres Odertal. Vogelwarte 52: 251.

  • Bellebaum, J., Helmecke, A., Koffijberg, K. & Arbeiter, S. (2014) Wo man nicht mäht, da lass Dich ruhig nieder – verlängern Schutzmaßnahmen die Aufenthaltsdauer von Wachtelkönigen? Vogelwarte 52: 252-253.

  • Tanneberger F, Knöfler V, Linke W, Tegetmeyer C, Kloskowski J (2014) Rapid changes in vegetation structure of Aquatic Warbler habitats in Pomerania - outcomes of targeted five year habitat management. Plant Diversity and Evolution 130: 303-313.

  • Kloskowski J, Tanneberger F, Marczakiewicz P, Wisniewska A, Choynowska A (2015) Optimal habitat conditions for the globally threatened Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola in eastern Poland and their implications for fen management. Ibis 157: 406–412.

  • Bellebaum, J. & Tanneberger, F. (2016) Wasser und Wiesen für den Seggenrohrsänger – Schutzmaßnahmen im Nationalpark Unteres Odertal. Natur und Landschaft.

  • Arbeiter S, Helmecke A, Tanneberger F & Bellebaum J (2016) Wiesenmahd und Wachtelkönigschutz in eutrophen Flussauen. Vogelwarte 54: 314-315.
  • Bellebaum J, Arbeiter S, Helmecke A & Koffijberg K (2016) Survival and departure of corncrakes 
    Crex crex on managed breeding grounds. Ann. Zool. Fennici 53: 288-295.
  • Arbeiter S, Roth T, Helmecke A, Haferland HJ & Bellebaum J (2017) How to count a vagabond? – Population estimation in the Corncrake Crex crex. Vogelwelt 137: 75-79.
  • Arbeiter S, Helmecke A & Bellebaum J (2017) Do Corncrakes Crex crex benefit from unmown refuge strips? Bird Conservation International. doi:10.1017/S0959270916000447.
  • Arbeiter S, Franke E, Helmecke A & Tanneberger F (2017) Habitat preference of female Corncrakes Crex crex: implications for the conservation of breeding sites in a secretive species. Bird Study.
    Doi 10.1080/00063657.2017.1318107.