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Breeding habitat of red-backed shrike Lanius collurio on farmland hilly areas of Central Italy: is functional heterogeneity one important key?

Ethology Ecology & Evolution


This paper examines the relationships between breeding site selection of red-backed shrikes Lanius collurio and land-use features using GIS. We examine the habitat preference of this species in areas characterised by a temperate climate and by a prevailing agricultural cover. We focused on the occurrence of red-backed shrike in relation to fragmentation, patch diversity and a few habitat features of the farmlands, as a surrogate for functional heterogeneity. We also studied several parameters such as the number of closely located nests, minimum distance between the nests and elevation above sea level of the breeding sites. Our results confirm the importance of the marginal elements such as shrubs, hedgerows and scatter patches in farmlands, and could add an effective method for studying suitable habitats for L. collurio using few environmental parameters. Our results suggest that breeding sites of the species are located mainly in cultivated zones, characterised by the presence of dispersal shrub patches and high edge density values and in proximity to the roads. Our results confirm also that landscape heterogeneity is one of the key factors in the selection of breeding habitat for red-backed shrikes in farmland of Central Italy, and therefore should be subject to agricultural policies aimed at conservation and maintenance of these environmental features.

Author(s): Morelli, F; Santolini, R; Sisti, D

Journal: Ethology Ecology & Evolution

Year: 2012


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