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Niche Overlap of Two Sympatric-Nesting Hawks Accipiter spp. in the New Jersey-New York Highlands

T. Bosakowski, D. G. Smith and R. Speiser
Ecography
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1992), pp. 358-372
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3682989
Page Count: 15
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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.
Niche Overlap of Two Sympatric-Nesting Hawks Accipiter spp. in the New Jersey-New York Highlands
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Abstract

The food and habitat niches of two nesting species of hawks Accipiter spp. were studied in an extensively forested area of the Eastern Deciduous Forest Biome. Nesting habitat was quantitated at 19 Cooper's hawk A. cooperii nests and 16 northern goshawk A. gentilis nests. There was no significant trend for Cooper's hawks to nest in less mature forests than northern goshawks as reported previously for western North America. Forest habitats did not differ markedly except that shrub cover was greater at Cooper's hawk nest sites, which were also on flatter terrain and closer to roads, forest openings, and human habitation. However, these few differences resulted in reducing habitat-niche overlap considerably (0.538), as was calculated using principal components analysis. Mean prey weight was significantly larger for the northern goshawk which follows its 2.2-fold body weight advantage over Cooper's hawk. Although bird prey was of primary importance to both Accipiter, goshawks took twice the proportion of mammals compared to their smaller congener. Food-niche overlap was lowest by prey species overlap (0.470), followed by prey size class overlap (0.529), and highest by vertical foraging zone overlap (0.816). The Cooper's hawk showed the greatest niche breadth for both food and habitat niches indicating it as more of a generalist. Overall, niche complementarity of food and habitat dimensions resulted in niche overdispersion along food and habitat dimensions with a total niche overlap (0.504) that was below the competition threshold. These results suggested that competition (past and current) was responsible for segregating niches.

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