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National-scale analyses of habitat associations of Marsh Tit Poecile palustris and Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus: two species with opposing population trends in Britain

By Jane Carpenter, Jennifer Smart, Arjun Amar, Andrew Gosler, Shelley Hinsley and Elizabeth Charman


Capsule Marsh Tits were strongly associated with both the amount and species diversity of woodland understorey; Blue Tits were associated with large trees and deadwood. \ud \ud Aims To gather quantitative information on the habitat requirements of Marsh Tits, in comparison with those of Blue Tits, across a large number of sites in England and Wales, and secondly to evaluate the range of habitat conditions likely to encourage the presence, and increase the abundance of, each species. \ud \ud Methods Counts of birds were made at each of 181 woods across England and Wales, and habitat data were collected from the same locations in each woodland. Marsh Tit and Blue Tit presence and abundance were related to habitat characteristics, interspecific competition and deer impact. \ud \ud Results Shrub cover and species diversity were important for the presence and abundance of Marsh Tits, across their geographical range in Britain. Blue Tits were associated with large trees and deadwood. \ud \ud Conclusion Our results support the hypothesis that changes in woodland management, leading to canopy closure and a decline in the understorey available, could have had an impact on Marsh Tits, and may have led to the observed population decline. These same changes were also consistent with population increase in Blue Tits

Topics: Zoology, Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1080/00063650903026108
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