Habitat selection and range use of little owls in relation to habitat patterns at three spatial scales

Apolloni, Nadine; Grüebler, M.U.; Arlettaz, Raphaël; Gottschalk, T.K.; Naef-Daenzer, B. (2018). Habitat selection and range use of little owls in relation to habitat patterns at three spatial scales. Animal conservation, 21(1), pp. 65-75. Wiley 10.1111/acv.12361

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Understanding the rules of habitat selection and the individual behavioural routinesin the home-range is crucial for developing evidence-based conservation action.We investigated habitat selection and range use of adult little owlsAthene noctuain relation to landscape configuration, habitat structure and resource distribution.We determined the preference of habitat structures by VHF-telemetry. Large- andfine-scale distribution patterns of voles–the main prey during the breeding season–were assessed by transect counts of signs of vole presence. An experiment usingartificial perches was carried out to determine thefine-scale adjustment of the owls’range use in relation to prey abundance and vegetation height. Habitat selectionand resource exploitation by little owls were structured at all spatial levels: (1) atthe landscape scale, orchards were highly preferred over other areas. This accordswith the patchy large-scale occurrence of voles, which were absent in cropland,but abundant in orchards and grassland; (2) within home-ranges, the spatial distri-bution of voles was highly inhomogeneous and structures with high prey abun-dance were used over-proportionally; (3) at the scale of foraging sites, little owlspreferred patches with low vegetation over those with high prey abundance, estab-lishing that prey availability is the crux. The results suggest that all levels of habi-tat selection and range use were related to farming practices and affected bycurrent cultivation. Conservation measures should focus on the conservation andrestoration of orchards on the landscape level and habitat management measuresshould focus on grasslands–the main food providers–by creating a mosaic ofpatches with short grass and tall grass. Together with other habitat structures pro-viding food resources such asfield edges, wildflower areas and structures facilitat-ing access to prey, the quality of habitat patches in terms of food availability maybe highly improved.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Apolloni, Nadine and Arlettaz, Raphaël

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

1367-9430

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

29 May 2019 14:03

Last Modified:

29 May 2019 14:03

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/acv.12361

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.126669

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/126669

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