Comparative analysis of habitat requirements of Whinchat and Common Stonechat in Europe. - M.V. Banik. - Berkut. 16 (1). 2007. - P. 87-97.
Habitat requirements of Whinchat and Common Stonechat were analysed taking into account the level of abundance of both species in different types of habitats in Europe. The data on breeding population densities were extracted from literature sources. The results of own long-term comparative studies of Whinchat and Common Stonechat ecology in North-eastern and Eastern Ukraine were used too. Main habitat preferences of both species were identified. Whinchat and Common Stonechat are similar in their needs in open habitats with perches as main structural elements used in daily activity. Density and hardness of perches, availability of nest sites and presence of sites with non-dense vegetation cover also matter. Common Stonechat depends on within-seasonal and year-to-year stability of vegetation cover, linear boundaries between habitats, tall perches used for singing early in spring, presence of slope sites and slope aspect. Whinchat is more tolerant to uniformity of vegetation cover and dampness level, and relies on grass/herb ratio in vegetation structure and persisting dry stems of perennial herbs. The data on habitat preferences were used to speculate about evolutionary history of both species. Whinchat seems to evolve in conditions of alpine and flood-plain meadows while Common Stonechat is related with garriga and maquis (Mediterranean vegetation types) as well as secondary habitats (e.g. heathlands) in Western Europe. Deforestation processes favour both species in the past while now both suffer from intensification of agricultural practice throughout Europe. [Ukrainian].
Key words: Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra, Common Stonechat, Saxicola torquata, habitat preference, ecology, evolution.
Address: M.V. Banik, Ukrainian Research Institute of Forestry and Forest Melioration, Pushkinska str. 86, Kharkiv, 61024, Ukraine; e-mail: mbanik@operamail.com.