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The effects of individual interactions and habitat preferences on spatial structure in a grassland bird community

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Spatial structure and the distribution of individuals within a community might be influenced by several factors such as habitat heterogeneity and local interactions among individuals of the same and different species. We investigated the spatial distributions of eight bird species in a grassland community during the breeding season and examined whether the spatial distributions of individuals were influenced by interactions among neighboring individuals or different habitat preferences of different bird species.

In order to identify the effects of the interactions among neighboring individuals and habitat preference, we developed a randomization test in which species identifications were randomly allocated to the observed individual positions within areas with the same vegetation structure. The randomization test indicated that individuals tend to have territories near the territories of individuals of the same species or of a particular species more frequently (or less frequently) than those expected from random distributions of individuals.

Among these associations, only one case was explained by individual interactions, and 19 cases were explained by habitat preference.

The results suggest that both individual interactions and habitat preference affected the spatial distributions of individuals and possibly influence the species compositions and diversity in grassland bird communities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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