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Coexistence in Mediterranean Warblers: Ecological Differences or Interspecific Territoriality?

Jean-Louis Martin and Jean-Claude Thibault
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 23, No. 2 (Mar., 1996), pp. 169-178
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845809
Page Count: 10
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Coexistence in Mediterranean Warblers: Ecological Differences or Interspecific Territoriality?
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Abstract

We studied the coexistence of four species of Sylvia warblers living in Mediterranean matorral in order to identify the respective role of ecological segregation and of interspecific territoriality in explaining the local distribution of these four species. Data on habitat use, foraging behaviour and interspecific spacial segregation were collected on Corsica and on Spargi (Sardinia) islands. Despite large overlap in patch selection and in foraging behaviour the four species did segregate ecologically and behaviourally while foraging (differences in the choice of plant species used for foraging, in the height of the plant selected, in the selection of the portion of the plant volume used and in the selection of the plant structure explored). Complementarity in foraging behaviour was observed in the morphologically and ecologically and ecologically closest species: the Dartford (Sylvia undata) and the Marmora's (Sylvia sarda) warblers. We did not observe any evidence of direct interspecific interactions in song, alarm, or aggressive behaviour. Nor did we observe patterns of spatial distribution that would support the idea of coexistence by interspecific territorial exclusion. These results contrast with the results of Cody & Walter (1976) suggesting interspecific territoriality in Mediterranean Sylvia warblers. They are consistent with other published results emphasizing ecological differences as explanation for species coexistence.

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