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Multi-scale habitat selection and foraging ecology of the eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops) in pine plantations

Biodiversity and Conservation

Abstract

Bird conservation can be challenging in landscapes with high habitat turnover such as planted forests, especially for species that require large home ranges and juxtaposition of different habitats to complete their life cycle. The eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops) has declined severely in western Europe but is still abundant in south-western France. We studied habitat selection of hoopoes in pine plantation forests using a multi-scale survey, including point-counts at the landscape level and radio-tracking at the home-range scale. We quantified habitat use by systematically observing bird behaviour and characterized foraging sites according to micro-habitat variables and abundance of the main prey in the study area, the pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa). At the landscape scale, hoopoes selected habitat mosaics of high diversity, including deciduous woods and hedgerows as main nesting sites. At the home-range scale, hoopoes showed strong selection for short grassland vegetation along sand tracks as main foraging habitats. Vegetation was significantly shorter and sparser at foraging sites than random, and foraging intensity appeared to be significantly correlated with moth winter nest abundance. Hoopoe nesting success decreased during the three study years in line with processionary moth abundance. Thus, we suggest that hoopoes need complementation between foraging and breeding habitats to establish successfully in pine plantations. Hoopoe conservation requires the maintenance of adjacent breeding (deciduous woods) and foraging habitats (short swards adjacent to plantation edges), and consequently depends on the maintenance of habitat diversity at the landscape scale.

Author(s): Barbaro, L; Couzi, L; Bretagnolle, V; Nezan, J; Vetillard, F

Journal: Biodiversity and Conservation

Year: 2008

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