Habitat selection by the Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) in agricultural landscape of Moscow region. - S.V. Volkov, T.V. Sviridova. - Berkut. 22 (1). 2013. - P. 55-60.
The Short-eared Owl inhabits open landscapes, including agricultural lands. Relationship between habitat composition and probability of territory occupation by owls was assessed by dividing the study area into a grid of cells. Principal habitat types were assigned ranks based on their fraction within each cell. Habitat selection and spatial distribution of Short-eared Owls was studied during 1996–2007. The portion of regularly occupied cells was higher in years with low density of owls. Never inhabited by owls cells and inhabited at least once differed significantly by higher level of anthropogenic load at the former, higher portion of arable land, lower portion of meadow, and higher development of wooded areas. The Short-eared Owl occupied territories in a non-random manner from year to year, with some territories preferred and others avoided. Selection of breeding territories by owls depends on prevailing habitat: the probability of territory occupation correlates positively with meadow area and negatively with the area of arable land. Nesting density of the Short-eared Owl decreased with increase of shrub coverage in the area. Owls preferred habitat patches with higher number of species and higher small mammal’s abundance. [English].
Key words: habitat composition, spatial distribution, territory occupation, prey abundance, land abandonment.
Address: S.V. Volkov, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Rus. Acad. of Sci.; Leninskiy prosp., 33, Moscow, 119071, Russia; e-mail: owl_bird@mail.ru.