University of Oulu

Heterospecific attraction in breeding bird communities : implications to habitat selection and species interactions in a landscape perspective

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Author: Forsman, Jukka1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 11 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : University of Oulu, 2000
Publish Date: 2000-05-02
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB 210), Linnanmaa, on May 19th, 2000, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Hanna Kokko
Docent Hannu Pöysä


I studied the structure of European breeding forest bird communities on several spatial scales focusing on heterospecific attraction among birds (i.e., the attraction of individuals to the company of interspecifics). Namely, I examined how heterospecific attraction affects habitat selection in migrant birds and the potential role of predation risk in enhancing heterospecific attraction during breeding with particular emphasis regarding the interaction between resident and migrant birds.

Geographically, low densities and low relative proportions of resident titmice (Parus and Aegithalos spp.) were associated with harsh winter conditions. The densities of northern European titmice populations are suggested to be lower than expected on the basis of summer productivity potentially causing geographical variation with respect to the interactions between resident and migrant birds. As expected, the associations between titmice and migrants appear stronger and more positive in northern Europe than elsewhere.

Heterospecific attraction in habitat selection among migrant species was studied both experimentally and theoretically. An increased density of titmice resulted in a higher number and abundance of migrant species than the removal treatment, suggesting that resident birds are used as cues for locating profitable breeding sites. From a theoretical perspective and under most conditions, the use of heterospecific cues proved to be a better habitat selection strategy than selection of sites based on direct assessment of the relative quality of habitat patches. Only when interactions (both positive and negative) between migrants and residents were weak and sampling costs of both strategies were about equivalent, did individuals using direct sampling gain in fitness.

Heterospecific attraction during breeding in relation to predation risk was assessed by examining the spatial distribution of birds. Both experimentally increased perceived predation risk and naturally occurring predation risk created by the presence of sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) i.e., relative to the vicinity of nesting hawk, resulted in more clumped distribution of birds than areas of lower risk. Around sparrowhawks nest, however, clumping was apparent for only one forest type and only among study plots including both large (≥ 20 g, preferred prey) and small birds (< 20 g).

To conclude, heterospecific attraction of migrants to resident birds contributes to the structure of local avian communities in forest landscapes. Heterospecific attraction among birds is strengthened by increased predation risk causing variation in species interactions when considered in a landscape perspective.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN: 0355-3191
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISSN-L: 0355-3191
ISBN: 951-42-5626-3
ISBN Print: 951-42-5625-5
Issue: 345
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2000. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.