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Influence of habitat on nest location and reproductive output of Montagu’s Harriers breeding in natural vegetation

AuthorsLimiñana, Rubén ; Arroyo, Beatriz ; Surroca, Martín; Urios, Vicente; Reig-Ferrer, Abilio
KeywordsColonial species
Circus pygargus
Natural vegetation
Issue Date2011
CitationJournal of Ornithology 152(3): 557-565 (2011)
AbstractWe examined distribution and breeding success of semi-colonial Montagu's Harriers (Circus pygargus) in relation to habitat in Castellón province (eastern Spain). Breeding areas used by harriers at a 1-km2 scale were characterised by having intermediate percentages of scrub cover, their nesting habitat, and also had intermediate coverage of herbaceous crops and non-irrigated orchards. Out of all habitat variables considered, only the percentage of herbaceous crops within 500 m from individual nests had a positive and significant effect on breeding output of the species, suggesting that this habitat may be efficiently used by harriers to forage. Breeding output was also related to laying date and number of breeding neighbours within 500 m around nests, with pairs laying later and having a higher number of breeding neighbours showing lower fledged brood sizes. Number of neighbours (but not laying date) was positively related to scrub cover within 500 m and to cover of herbaceous crops within 2,000 m. Conservation actions for Montagu's Harrier in the study area should be aimed at preserving areas of scrub with nearby presence of herbaceous crops or natural grasslands. However, habitat improvement for semi-colonial species such as Montagu's Harrier may not result in a change of species distribution area, and good habitat areas may remain unoccupied, as social factors like presence of conspecifics play an important role in breeding area selection for these species.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-010-0615-8
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s10336-010-0615-8
issn: 0021-8375
e-issn: 1439-0361
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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