, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 161-173

The effect of breeding-habitat patch size on bird population density

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Abstract

An individual-based simulation model was used to study the effect of the relative location of food and nest sites in the landscape on the relationship between the breeding habitat patch size and bird population density. The model predicted that when both food and nest sites are located exclusively in the breeding habitat patches, larger patches tend to harbor higher population densities. But when food starts to be added to the `matrix' habitat and taken out of the breeding habitat the advantageous effect of larger patches diminishes and eventually the trend reverses, with small patches having higher population densities. This pattern arises from the combined effect of the existence of an extended foraging area around patches and an intrinsic advantage of large habitat patches associated with the concentration of food resources and potential colonizers. The effects of interspecific interactions and the management implications of the model are discussed.