Michel, V. T., B. Naef-Daenzer, H. Keil & M. U. Grüebler (2017)

    Reproductive consequences of farmland heterogeneity in little owls (Athene noctua).

    Further information

    Oecologia 183: 1019–1029



    The amount of high-quality habitat patches, their distribution, and the resource accessibility therein play a key role in regulating habitat effects on reproductive success. Heterogeneous habitats offer non-substitutable resources (e.g. nest sites and food) and substitutable resources (e.g. different types of food) in close proximity, thereby facilitating landscape complementation and supplementation. However, it remains poorly understood how spatial resource separation in homogeneous agricultural landscapes affects reproductive success. To fill this gap, we investigated the relationships between farmland heterogeneity and little owl (Athene noctua) reproductive success, including potential indirect effects of the heterogeneity dependent home-range size on reproduction. Little owl home-ranges were related to field heterogeneity in summer and to structural heterogeneity in winter. Clutch size was correlated with the amount of food-rich habitat close to the nest irrespective of female home-range size, suggesting importance of landscape complementation. Nestling survival was positively correlated with male home-range size, suggesting importance of landscape supplementation. At the same time, fledgling condition was negatively correlated with male home-range size. We conclude that decreasing farmland heterogeneity constrains population productivity by two processes: increasing separation of food resources from nest or roost sites results in low landscape complementation, and reduction of alternative food resources limits landscape supplementation. Our results suggest that structural heterogeneity affects landscape complementation, whereas the heterogeneity and management of farmland fields affect landscape supplementation. Thus, to what extent a reduction of the heterogeneity within agricultural landscapes results in species-specific habitat degradation depends on the ecological processes (i.e. landscape complementation or supplementation) which are affected.
    keywords: Habitat quality, home-range size, kernel density, landscape complementation, landscape, supplementation, radio telemetry, reproduction