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Spatial Aggregation of Forest Songbird Territories and Possible Implications for Area Sensitivity

Author(s): Julie Bourque | André Desrochers

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: spatial autocorrelation | forest fragmentation | landscape structure | migrant songbirds

Habitat area requirements of forest songbirds vary greatly among species, but the causes of this variation are not well understood. Large area requirements could result from advantages for certain species when settling their territories near those of conspecifics. This phenomenon would result in spatial aggregations much larger than single territories. Species that aggregate their territories could show reduced population viability in highly fragmented forests, since remnant patches may remain unoccupied if they are too small to accommodate several territories. The objectives of this study were twofold: (1) to seek evidence of territory clusters of forest birds at various spatial scales, lags of 250-550 m, before and after controlling for habitat spatial patterns; and (2) to measure the relationship between spatial autocorrelation and apparent landscape sensitivity for these species. In analyses that ignored spatial variation of vegetation within remnant forest patches, nine of the 17 species studied significantly aggregated their territories within patches. After controlling for forest vegetation, the locations of eight out of 17 species remained significantly clustered. The aggregative pattern that we observed may, thus, be indicative of a widespread phenomenon in songbird populations. Furthermore, there was a tendency for species associated with higher forest cover to be more spatially aggregated
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