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Transport infrastructure shapes foraging habitat in a raptor community.


ABSTRACT: Transport infrastructure elements are widespread and increasing in size and length in many countries, with the subsequent alteration of landscapes and wildlife communities. Nonetheless, their effects on habitat selection by raptors are still poorly understood. In this paper, we analyzed raptors' foraging habitat selection in response to conventional roads and high capacity motorways at the landscape scale, and compared their effects with those of other variables, such as habitat structure, food availability, and presence of potential interspecific competitors. We also analyzed whether the raptors' response towards infrastructure depends on the spatial scale of observation, comparing the attraction or avoidance behavior of the species at the landscape scale with the response of individuals observed in the proximity of the infrastructure. Based on ecological hypotheses for foraging habitat selection, we built generalized linear mixed models, selected the best models according to Akaike Information Criterion and assessed variable importance by Akaike weights. At the community level, the traffic volume was the most relevant variable in the landscape for foraging habitat selection. Abundance, richness, and diversity values reached their maximum at medium traffic volumes and decreased at highest traffic volumes. Individual species showed different degrees of tolerance toward traffic, from higher abundance in areas with high traffic values to avoidance of it. Medium-sized opportunistic raptors increased their abundance near the traffic infrastructures, large scavenger raptors avoided areas with higher traffic values, and other species showed no direct response to traffic but to the presence of prey. Finally, our cross-scale analysis revealed that the effect of transport infrastructures on the behavior of some species might be detectable only at a broad scale. Also, food availability may attract raptor species to risky areas such as motorways.

SUBMITTER: Planillo A 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4365038 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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