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Habitat structure in Mediterranean deciduous oak forests in relation to reproductive success in the Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

AuthorsArriero, Elena; Sanz, Juan José ; Romero-Pujante, Mariló
Issue Date2006
PublisherBritish Ornithologists' Union
CitationBird Study 53: 12-19 (2006)
AbstractCapsule Effects operate during laying and incubation and with less success in breeding territories characterized by a young and immature vegetation structure. Aims To explore relationships between habitat characteristics at the breeding territory level and reproductive timing and success of Blue Tits Parus caeruleus in Pyrenean Oak Quercus pyrenaica woods in central Spain. Methods Habitat structure of the breeding territories was measured in a sampling plot centred on a nestbox, with a radius of 25 m. A principal component analysis was performed to obtain a factor of ‘territory vegetation maturity’ summarizing the characteristics of the territory. Reproductive parameters were obtained by frequent visits to the nests during the breeding season. Adults were captured at the nest to obtain morphological measurements, and nestling tarsus length and body mass were measured on day 15 after hatching. Results Habitat effects on reproductive performance seem to operate at the beginning of reproduction in these montane oak woods and through female body condition during the first stages of breeding. Female Blue Tits in breeding territories with immature and degraded vegetation started reproduction later and had lower hatching and breeding success. Laying date was strongly related to female body condition. Total reproductive failure occurred mainly during the incubation period and was associated with immature breeding territories. However, nestlings raised in mature forest territories did not differ in size and mass from those in degraded, immature territories. Conclusions The effects of habitat structure on Blue Tit reproductive success operate during laying and incubation in this Mediterranean forest type. The results are discussed in terms of the implications of management of Mediterranean oak woods for the conservation of forest bird populations.
Publisher version (URL)http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00063650609461411#.VNzPb_mG-So
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