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The relationship between weather and reproduction of the Barn Owl Tyto alba in a semi-arid agricultural landscape in Israel

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Even though the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is distributed worldwide, little information is available on how weather affects Barn Owl breeding outside of Europe and North America. For instance, if cold temperatures can negatively influence population dynamics in temperate regions, heat could have a similar negative effect in arid regions. We have studied a breeding population of Barn Owls in a semi-arid agricultural environment over 13 years in Israel in order to determine whether lack of rain and hot ambient temperatures impair Barn Owl reproductive success. The percentage of nest boxes occupied by Barn Owls was not related to any of the weather variables, whereas the number of nestlings per Barn Owl pair and the percentage of pairs that succeeded to fledge young was lower in years when it started to rain later in the season and when the minimum daily temperature was higher during the breeding season. In comparison to temperate regions, heat is detrimental to Barn Owl breeding and early precipitation is probably important in boosting vegetation and, in turn, the abundance of small mammals, the Barn Owl's staple food.
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Keywords: AGRICULTURE; BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL; BREEDING BIOLOGY; ISRAEL; RAIN; TEMPERATURE; WEATHER

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2017

This article was made available online on 17 October 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "The relationship between weather and reproduction of the Barn Owl Tyto alba in a semi-arid agricultural landscape in Israel".

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  • Avian Biology Research provides a forum for the publication of research in every field of ornithology. It covers all aspects of pure and applied ornithology for wild or captive species as well as research that does not readily fit within the publication objectives of other ornithological journals. By considering a wide range of research fields for publication, Avian Biology Research provides a forum for people working in every field of ornithology. The journal also includes sections on avian news, conference diary and book reviews.

    Editor-in-Chief: Charles Deeming Editors: Tom Pike; Dale Sandercock; Claudia Wascher; Josh Firth; David Wilkinson; Jim Reynolds Production Editor: Claire Pike

    Cover image: Long-eared Owl (Asio otus). Credit: Peter Krejz/Shutterstock.com.

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