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Which features of UK farmland are important in retaining territories of the rapidly declining Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur?

Bird Study

Abstract

Capsule: Turtle Doves continue to show a strong population decline; territories were more likely to be retained in areas with more nesting habitat, and more suitable foraging habitat. Aim: To determine which features of farmland in England are important for retaining Turtle Dove territories Methods: Fifty-eight grid squares with recent records of territorial Turtle Doves were resurveyed, and squares retaining Turtle Dove territories compared with those from which Turtle Doves had been lost. Results: Turtle Dove territories were detected in 48% of squares resurveyed. When correcting for the 70% detection rate of the survey methodology, territories were present in 66% of squares surveyed suggesting a 34% decline over a 2-year period. Established scrub and hedgerows > 4 m tall positively influenced Turtle Dove presence and abundance, as did standing water. Bare ground and fallow had positive effects on Turtle Dove abundance whereas grazed land negatively impacted abundance. Conclusion: The positive effects of area of established scrub and volume of large hedgerows are likely to represent a declining density of birds selecting the best quality nest sites. We suggest instead that foraging habitat may be limiting distribution.

Author(s): Jenny C Dunn; Antony J Morris

Year: 2012

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