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Habitat structure versus food abundance : the importance of sparse vegetation for the common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Martinez, Nicolas and Jenni, Lukas and Wyss, Eric and Zbinden, Niklaus. (2010) Habitat structure versus food abundance : the importance of sparse vegetation for the common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus. Journal of ornithology, Vol. 151, H. 2. pp. 297-307.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5841957

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Abstract

As many other birds breeding in agricultural areas, the common redstart declined strongly in many Central European countries over the last 60 years. The destruction of traditionally managed orchards, an important breeding habitat in Central Europe, is a relevant cause. An additional factor for the decline of this species could be the intensified management of the ground vegetation in orchards through reducing food availability and lowering prey detectability and accessibility. In this study we examined the importance of surfaces with sparse vegetation for the location of redstart territories and for foraging. To validate the results of these field studies we made habitat-choice experiments in aviaries with captive birds. Territories occupied by redstarts in orchards of northwestern Switzerland contained a significantly higher proportion of surfaces with sparse vegetation than unoccupied control sites. Redstarts made almost five times more hunting flights into experimentally established ruderal vegetation strips than into adjacent unmown meadows. No difference was observed when the meadow was freshly mown. Vegetation height and the proportion of open ground surface correctly predicted the vegetation type for hunting in 77% of the cases. Experiments in aviaries offering two types of sparse vegetation and a dense meadow supported the results of the field experiments. Even a four-fold increase of the food abundance in the meadow did not lead to a noticeable change in preference for the sparse vegetation types. For the conservation of the common redstart, not only traditionally managed orchards with tall trees with cavities should be preserved but also areas with sparse vegetation should be favored
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Baur, Bruno
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Blackwell Wissenschafts-Verlag
ISSN:0021-8375
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:11 Oct 2012 15:26
Deposited On:14 Sep 2012 07:09

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