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Non-ideal breeding habitat selection: a mismatch between preference and fitness

Arlt, Debora and Pärt, Tomas (2007). Non-ideal breeding habitat selection: a mismatch between preference and fitness. Ecology. 88 :3 , 792-801
[Research article]

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/06-0574


The selection of breeding sites in heterogeneous habitats should ideally be based on cues closely reflecting habitat quality and thus predicting realized individual fitness. Using long-term population data and data on territory establishment of male Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe), we examined whether territory characteristics linked to individual fitness (reproductive performance and survival) also were linked to territory preference. Breeding territories varied in their physical characteristics and their potential effects on reproductive performance, and this variation among territories was correlated from one year to the next. Of all measured territory characteristics (from the focal and the previous year) only territory field layer height predicted individual fitness, i.e., reproductive performance was higher in territories with permanently short rather than growing field layers. Territory preference, instead, was only linked to the size of territory aggregations, i.e., males settled earlier at territory sites sharing borders with several adjacent sites than at those with few or no adjacent sites. This mismatch between territory characteristics linked to fitness and those linked to territory preference was not explained by site fidelity or compensated for by the different fitness components measured. Because the results were not in agreement with an ecological trap scenario, where poor habitats are preferred over high-quality habitats, our results suggest a more general case of nonideal habitat selection. Whereas nonideal selection with respect to territory field layer height may be explained by its poor temporal predictability within the breeding season, the preference for territory aggregations is still open to alternative adaptive explanations. Our study suggests that nonideal habitat selection should be investigated by direct estimates of preferences (e.g., order of territory establishment) and their links to habitat characteristics and fitness components. Furthermore, we suggest that the probability of establishing a territory needs to be included as a factor influencing patterns of habitat selection.

Authors/Creators:Arlt, Debora and Pärt, Tomas
Title:Non-ideal breeding habitat selection: a mismatch between preference and fitness
Series Name/Journal:Ecology
Year of publishing :2007
Page range:792-801
Number of Pages:10
Additional Information:Published with permission of the Ecological Society of America - Journals (ESA-Journals)
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:P Natural resources > P01 Nature conservation and land resources
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 405 Other Agricultural Sciences > Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Agrovoc terms:Habitats, Ecology
Keywords:conspecific attraction, ecological trap, habitat selection
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
ID Code:10879
Faculty:NL - Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences (until 2013)
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:29 Jan 2014 14:23
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 11:03

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