Fidélité au site et à l'habitat chez le bruant à gorge blanche

Authors: Rousseau, Patrick
Advisor: Desrochers, André
Abstract: The ecological niche is often considered as a species or population property. However, conspecific individuals may sometimes use contrasting parts of their species’ niche. As shown by many studies dealing with individual diet, generalist species are often composed of individual specialists that use only a subset of their population’s niche. I did an experiment to measure individual specialization in habitat selection of White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis; WTSP; “sparrows”) at Forêt Montmorency, Quebec. Point counts showed that the WTSP used a large range of habitats, from clearcuts (< 1 year) to mature mixed and coniferous stands with and without edges. According to the individual specialization hypothesis, individual WTSP should be faithful to a particular type of forest stand. In case of major disturbance, specialized individuals should relocate their territories even if the habitat resulting from the disturbance is suitable for the species. We compared between-year fidelity of sparrows to mature stands not affected by forest harvest (control sites) vs. fidelity to mature stands clearcut during the winter between two breeding seasons (experimental sites). Experimental sites were used by the species from the first months following the clearcut. Among all birds that returned two consecutive summers to the study site, territory fidelity of the 14 males from experimental sites was lower then that of the 21 males from control sites (P = 0.01). Median between-year breeding dispersal distance of experimental males was twice as large as that of control males (P < 0.001). The more the original territory was clearcut, the farther experimental males dispersed (P = 0.04). Experimental males’ new territories were more clearcut than their old territories before treatment (P = 0.02). However, their new territories were less clearcut than the location of their old territories after treatment (P = 0.04). Gain in uncut habitat in new territories was positively correlated with between-year breeding dispersal distance of experimental males (P = 0.03). We conclude that WTSP individually use only a subset of their species’ wide ecological niche. Therefore, it seems unjustified to assume that individuals from a generalist species are versatile and barely disturbed by silvicultural treatments in Quebec’s boreal forests.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2008
Open Access Date: 13 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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