Not only habitat but also sex. Factors conditioning spatial distribution of little bustard Tetrax tetrax families.

Gerard Bota, member of the BAC-Lab, have participated in a new article led by Rocio Tarjuelo (UAM, Madrid) and published in Acta Ornithologica. This study analysed the spatial distribution of Little Bustard families during the breeding season in relation to the distribution of male core areas in three Spanish populations of the species.

Species distribution patterns are determined not only by habitat preferences but also by biotic factors. Particularly, the presence of conspecifics may yield different types of benefits and costs for the individuals involved. This is also relevant in the context of the assessment of different agronomic scenarios and their potential impact on little bustard populations, one of the Steppeahead project objectives.

The habitat selection pattern was similar between regions, with semi-permanent vegetation and stubbles as most preferred habitats while others, such as ploughed land, were avoided. Families were located closer to male core areas than expected by chance and were spatially associated to male displaying sites. Little Bustard females may obtain different benefits from this spatial association such as access to more food resources and chances for second matings after a clutch loss. These results highlight the importance of intraspecific interactions in the definition of the habitat selection pattern of females and families. This study shows how spatial point pattern analysis may be a useful tool for integrating landscape and behavioural ecology

This paper is a contribution to the Steppeahead project funded by Fundación General CSIC-Banco Santander.

For more information:

- Tarjuelo, R.,  Delgado, M.P., Bota, G., Morales, M.B., Traba, J., Ponjoan, A., Hervás, I, Mañosa, S., (2013) Not only habitat but also sex. Factors conditioning spatial distribution of little bustard Tetrax tetrax families. Acta Ornithologica. 48, 1, 119-128

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