Occupancy and abundance of Little Owl (Athene noctua) in an intensively managed forest area in Biscay

Little Owl (Athene noctua) Science Article 3


We censused a population of Little Owls in Biscay (North Iberian Peninsula) using playback calls.We modelled their distribution using Geographic Information System (GIS), extracting data on land use and landscape composition in occupied and unoccupied areas at two different scales. Little Owl presence and habitat selectionweremainly governed by land use practice. The species was linked to traditional agri-pastoral exploitations. Variables such as topography, altitude, road density and urban areas had an effect at the lower scale, whilst density of predator species had an effect only over habitat selection but not over occupancy. At larger scales, the occupancy of apparently suitable areas was related to the structure and spatial composition of land use and, especially, to the proportion of forest plantations. Current policies of landmanagement pay no attention to traditional exploitations and associated wildlife, and the promotion of forest cultures is responsible for the decline of the species in many areas.

J. Zabala, I. Zuberogoitia, J.A. Martinez-Climent, J.E. Martinez, A. Azkona, Ornis Fennica 83:97-107. 2006

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