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Analysis of nest occupancy and nest reproduction in two sympatric raptors: common buzzard Buteo buteo and goshawk Accipiter gentilis

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Nest site selection can have important fitness consequences in birds. I analysed the habitat characteristics of 392 nests of two sympatric raptor species (common buzzard Buteo buteo and goshawk Accipiter gentilis) in Germany and their relation to nest occupation rate and nest reproductive success. For common buzzard, multivariate models explained only small proportions of the variance in nest occupation rate and nest reproductive success (13–19%). Important variables related to nest occupation rate were human disturbances, intra- and interspecific neighbour density, the amount of forested area and nest tree crown cover. Variables related to nest site reproductive success also included human disturbance, intra- and interspecific neighbour density and nest tree crown cover as well as nest distance to the nearest forest edge. In contrast, models for the goshawk explained a much higher proportion of the variation in nest occupation rate and nest reproductive success (41–43%). Important variables related to nest occupation rate were the remoteness of the nest site and direct human disturbance. Variables related to nest site reproductive success were remoteness of the nest site and good hunting habitat. Goshawks seem to be more sensitive to human disturbance than buzzards. A multiple discriminant analysis showed that nest site characteristics substantially overlapped between the species and there is a good evidence that competition for optimal nest sites occurs. Thus, buzzards might be constrained by the dominant goshawk in their nest site selection.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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