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The impact of burning on the microhabitat used by two species of couas in the western dry forest of Madagascar

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Habitat structure — an important consideration in all ecological studies of relationships between animals and their environment — can be studied at different scales. This topic was studied at the microhabitat scale in burned and unburned plots of a dry forest of Madagascar. The response of two endemic terrestrial coua (Coua coquereli and C. ruficeps) to burning was studued, at a microhabitat scale (involving the definition of several microhabitat variables relating to foraging sites of the two species), by comparing burned and unburned plots in a dry forest of Madagascar. There were significant differences between burned and unburned plots in terms of the microhabitat variables that were measured. The two species responded differently to the burning effect. In unburned forest, Coquerel's Coua (Coua coquereli) was restricted to places where tree dispersion and stem density were the most important variables in their foraging sites. The Redcapped Coua Coua ruficeps foraged more often at places where understorey vegetation was not well developed. Burning was not beneficial for Coquerel's Coua, because this species was restricted to favourable foraging sites and had to increase its territory size to find its food. Burning may be favourable for the Red-capped Coua, by increasing prey detectability.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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