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Spatial Patterns and Habitat Partition in the Breeding Birds of an Upland Wood

J. M. Edington and M. A. Edington
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 41, No. 2 (Jun., 1972), pp. 331-357
DOI: 10.2307/3472
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3472
Page Count: 28
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Spatial Patterns and Habitat Partition in the Breeding Birds of an Upland Wood
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Abstract

(1) The investigation seeks to account for the coexistence, during the breeding season, of a number of similar bird species in a broad-leaved woodland. (2) Most species in the groups studied were separated spatially from one another, either horizontally or vertically. The horizontal separation took the form of mutually exclusive territories (wood warbler and willow warbler) or mutually exclusive feeding areas (e.g. tits, redstart and pied flycatcher). The vertical separation involved the use of different feeding zones. (3) Some of those species which were not separated spatially are specialized to take different foods. The temporal separation of breeding periods appears to be linked with food specializations. (4) It is argued that the spatial separation of species is largely a result of behavioural and morphological specializations which equip each species to locate and utilize particular parts of the wood. (5) Each season competitive interactions occurred between species. These influenced distribution patterns but the progressive displacement of any species seemed to be prevented by each species having a physical refuge. (6) In this wood the supply of nest-holes did not appear to be important in restricting the numbers or distribution of species. (7) The spatial separation of species had the effect of dividing the food resources in the wood either by separating foods according to type, or by the division of a single food resource into units. The ultimate significance of spatial patterns may lie in this sub-division of food resources. (8) Although it is theoretically possible for species to coexist when using the same food and without spatial separation, no example of this was found in the present study. (9) In investigations concerned with the coexistence of similar species in the same general habitat, the value of analysing spatial distribution patterns is emphasized.

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