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Responses of common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) to land use changes in agricultural landscapes of Western France

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

In front of land use changes, there has been a wide decline in biodiversity. In this study, we analysed the numerical response of two diurnal raptor species, the common buzzard and the Eurasian kestrel to different agricultural landscape contexts. We carried out a 3-year survey of the abundance of these two species in three agricultural landscape contexts that are known to form a gradient of land use intensity and hedgerow network fragmentation. We also considered the variation in prey abundance related to these land use changes. The two raptor species showed negative but differentiated response patterns to land use intensification and small mammal abundance. The abundance of the common buzzard decreased significantly with the reduction of hedgerows. woodlots and grasslands areas, as well as with the decrease in prey abundance at the landscape scale. The abundance of the Eurasian kestrel showed the same trend, but fall of abundance was less marked and not significant. This resulted in a reverse ratio of species density according to agricultural intensification and landscape openness. Specific feeding habits, nesting habitats and spatial partitioning in foraging areas could explain the difference in the numerical response observed for these two raptor species. Buzzards forage mainly on highly profitable prey areas and avoid highly fragmented woodland habitats for nesting. Kestrels seem less dependent on semi-natural habitats, are able to nest in more fragmented landscapes and are better adapted to exploit less abundant but more widespread small mammal prey species within the cultivated matrix. The study may help to evaluate carrying capacities of agricultural landscapes in accordance with ecological life traits of these two raptor species. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Butet, A; Michel, N; Rantier, Y; Comor, V; Hubert-Moy, L; Nabucet, J; Delettre, Y

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2010

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