Some waterbird species are believed to have an impact on other waterbird species as they are able to usurp a limited habitat and destroy vegetation. In this study, we have analysed the nesting dynamics of five waterbird species: Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax and Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, that had settled in a colony in the Royal Castle Park of Racconigi (Cuneo, NW Italy) over a 17-year period (2000 to 2017). The Great Cormorant and the Cattle Egret settled in the colony in 2008 and 2012, respectively. We analysed the relationships between the number of breeding pairs of the five species. In addition, we used the time series forecasting method to study the nesting dynamics and the impact of the new settlements on the pre-existing colony. The number of nests of the Great Cormorant and the Cattle Egret increased annually, and these species significantly affected the nesting trends of the other pre-existing species: Grey Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron and Little Egret. The Grey Heron mainly suffered from the occupation of its old nests by the Great Cormorant from 2008 to 2013. However, since 2014, the Grey Heron has been able to react, by displacing its breeding site to the tops of trees adjacent to the old heronry, and this has resulted in an even greater number of nests than before 2008. The Black-crowned Night Heron and the Little Egret suffered more from the settlement of the new species than the Grey Heron did, and started to suddenly or gradually abandon the breeding site. The colony has been modified profoundly by the settlement of the Great Cormorant and the Cattle Egret, and it is still subject to dynamics that could transform it in the coming years.
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Vol. 56 • No. 1