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Habitat availability and use by Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur between 1965 and 1995: an analysis of Common Birds Census data

Bird Study


Capsule Breeding density on long-term CBC plots fell in proportion to loss of nesting rather than feeding habitat. Aim To investigate the habitat requirements of Turtle Dove and relate changes in breeding density to changes in habitat, at the national scale. Methods Bird and habitat data were extracted from 30 long-term farmland and woodland CBC plots for the period 1965 to 1995. Results Turtle Dove densities declined at an average annual rate of 4.6% on both farmland and woodland plots, equal to a decline of 76% over the period 1965 to 1995. Turtle Dove density on the woodland plots was, on average, 6.5 times greater than on the farmland plots. Overall habitat availability did not change over time, but some finer measures of habitat quality, such as habitat diversity nesting and feeding habitat availability did change. Changes in Turtle Dove density were positively related to changes in the amount of hedgerow and woodland edge per unit area on the farmland CBC plots, where Turtle Dove territories contained three times more woodland than expected from availability. On the woodland CBC plots, territories were established apparently at random. Conclusion It is likely that the availability of nesting habitat dictates Turtle Dove density, with areas of woodland and scrub supporting on average 6.5-times more breeding Turtle Doves, per unit area, than farmland.

Author(s): Browne, SJ; Aebischer, NJ; Yfantis, G; Marchant, JH

Journal: Bird Study

Year: 2004