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A territory scale analysis of habitat preferences of the declining Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana

Bird Study

Abstract

Capsule Ortolan Bunting occurrence is associated with bare ground, Lucerne, shrub cover and hedgerows/tree rows. Aims To assess the habitat features selected by Ortolan Buntings at the territory level in semi-open landscapes, in the northern Apennines of Italy. Methods We mapped territories in ten different plots and built a habitat selection model comparing 52 occupied cells with 52 unoccupied ones (cell size: 1 ha). We built multivariate adaptive regression splines models based on ground-measured variables. Results The model revealed an association with intermediate Lucerne cover (50% of the cell), high shrub cover, bare ground (>= 5%) and hedgerows/tree rows (>= 25 m/ha). The most important driver of occurrence was bare ground (optimum at 5-20%). Conclusion The maintenance of the mosaic and low-intensity farmed landscape, the promotion of Lucerne and the conservation/restoration of hedgerows/tree rows, may be promoted through the Rural Development Programme. The conservation of bare soil, grassland and shrubs at optimum amount at fine-scale could be the object of an agri-environment scheme targeted specifically at the Ortolan Bunting.

Author(s): Brambilla, M; Gustin, M; Vitulano, S; Negri, I; Celada, C

Journal: Bird Study

Year: 2016

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