Landscape characteristics explain large-scale variation in demographic traits in forest grouse
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- Lande, U.S., Herfindal, I., Willebrand, T. et al. Landscape Ecol (2014) 29: 127. doi:10.1007/s10980-013-9960-3
The effects of landscape composition on species and populations have become increasingly important due to large and rapid habitat changes worldwide. In particular, concern is raised for several forest-dwelling species such as capercaillie and black grouse, because their habitats are continuously changing and deteriorating from human development. Conservation of these species is linked to sustainable forest management that seeks to benefit multiple species, which demands knowledge about demographic rates in relation to forest composition and structure. We related the spatial variation in adult density and chick production of capercaillie and black grouse to landscape characteristics from 13 areas within the boreal forest of Norway. Linear mixed effects models showed that black grouse and capercaillie had similar associations to landscape characteristics. Adult density of both species was positively related to the proportion of old forest (>80 years), but only if the area had large proportions of mid to high productive forests. Chick production was negatively related to the proportion of old forest, but positively to habitat diversity and more so for black grouse compared to capercaillie. However, the result for chick production suggest that other forest types also are important, and that forest grouse needs a variety of habitats during their life history stages. Management that seeks to simultaneously conserve populations of black grouse and capercaillie needs to ensure a matrix of various forest types. A special focus must be on the critical life history of local populations to successfully preserve viable populations, for black grouse and capercaillie this implies protection of old and mid to high productive forest while keeping a heterogeneous landscape.