Vegetation structure and decreased moth abundance limit the recolonisation of restored habitat by the European Nightjar

Winiger, Nathalie; Korner, Pius; Arlettaz, Raphaël; Jacot, Alain (2018). Vegetation structure and decreased moth abundance limit the recolonisation of restored habitat by the European Nightjar. Rethinking ecology, 3, pp. 25-39. Pensoft Publishers 10.3897/rethinkingecology.3.29338

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Woodland ecosystems of Europe have undergone major transitions in the last centuries. Changes in land use and the loss of natural forest dynamics have often led to structurally poor, uniform and dense stands. Not surprisingly, open forest species relying on a heterogeneous stand structure have suffered dramatic population declines. The European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, a nocturnal insectivorous bird, has undergone such a decline in its main Swiss stronghold in Valais. Despite the species’ potential to colo- nize new sites and habitat restoration measures implemented since 2001, recolonisation of restored sites has not taken place, suggesting problems with the current habitat restoration strategy. In order to refine management recommendations, we compared habitat structure and moth abundance, a key Nightjar food source, at sites that are still occupied and at sites that had been abandoned but have recently been restored. Vegetation structure was more heterogeneous and moth abundance greater at occupied than at abandoned sites. More specifically, occupied sites harboured a greater coverage of bare ground, while abandoned sites exhibited a higher amount of regeneration and intermediate shrub layer. The occurrence of natural perches was also higher in occupied sites. Abandoned sites are thus characterised by lower prey abundance and denser vegetation cover, the combination of which is likely to lead to lower prey avail- ability for hunting Nightjars. Restoration action would benefit from maintaining snags and dead branches and by targeting unproductive habitats characterised by mineral soils, thereby slowing down regeneration and shrub regrowth. For future successful management of Nightjar habitats, it seems thereby essential trying to find the balance between actions that allow opening the lower and mid-strata of the forest while sustaining high moth populations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Arlettaz, Raphaël and Jacot, Alain

Subjects:

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

ISSN:

2534–9260

Publisher:

Pensoft Publishers

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2019 08:42

Last Modified:

12 Jun 2019 08:42

Publisher DOI:

10.3897/rethinkingecology.3.29338

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.127000

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/127000

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