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The influence of fruit abundance on the use of forest and cultivated field habitats by the endemic Madeira laurel pigeon Columba trocaz: Implications for conservation

AutorOliveira, Paulo; Menezes, Dilia; Jones, Martin; Nogales, Manuel
Palabras claveFrugivore ecology
Insular pigeon ecology and conservation of island birds
Macaronesian laurel forest
Madeira island
Fecha de publicación3-mar-2006
CitaciónBiological Conservation 130(4): 538-548 (2006)
ResumenThis study was conducted over a two year period in the north west of Madeira Island (Macaronesian Atlantic Islands, Portugal). It investigates the relationship between fruiting patterns in the indigenous forest and the use by the Madeira laurel pigeon of forest habitats and cultivated areas. Habitat use observations were carried out using line-transects in forest sites where the availability of fruit (the most important element of the diet) was assessed. The use of agricultural fields was measured indirectly by the assessment of the damage caused to crops. The findings provided strong evidence that bird movements and shifts in abundance are related to fruit usage and availability. The use of fruits is mostly opportunistic but when many species are available, selection was observed. From an ecological perspective, our findings indirectly confirm a high concordance between pigeon diet, studied by microhistological techniques, and habitat use. The use of crops also seems to be mostly opportunistic and is governed by the birds’ movements within the adjacent forest. It is hypothesised that fruit phenology will influence the use of agricultural areas only to the extent that it governs such movements; there is no strong evidence that crops are attacked only when the availability of natural foods is low. Our results suggest that the current management strategy for the forest is adequate for the conservation of this pigeon but that the conservation value of forest edges should be redefined. It is also proposed that crop damage may be reduced by identifying the proximate factors, which lead to the use of specific fields.
Descripción11 pages, 6 figures, 1 table.-- Printed version published Jul 2006.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2006.01.016
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