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The importance of breeding groups for territory occupancy in a declining population of a farmland passerine bird

Ville Vepsäläinen, Timo Pakkala, Markus Piha and Juha Tiainen
Annales Zoologici Fennici
Vol. 44, No. 1 (2007), pp. 8-19
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23736740
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The importance of breeding groups for territory occupancy in a declining population of a farmland passerine bird
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Abstract

We studied the relationships between the occupancy of territory sites and environmental and behaviour-related factors in a declining farmland bird, the ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana, in southern Finland in 1984—2003. We investigated the dependence of different factors on population density. The surrounding breeding group positively affected the occupation frequency of territory sites before and after the population crash. Bush- or tree-covered ditches and springtime non-vegetated fields also had positive effect on territory site occupancy. We suggest that large breeding groups, and obvious conspecific attraction, give indications of favourable breeding locations. Habitat deterioration may have pronounced consequences for local populations, in which the breeding group tends to be the unit of population dynamics. The results suggest that for conservation of the ortolan bunting, the maintenance and improvement of structurally and biologically diverse habitats is vital, since tendency to breed in groups apparently makes the species more sensitive to habitat changes than many other farmland species.

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