, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp 100–106 | Cite as

Influences of population size and woodland area on bird species distributions in small woods

  • S. A. HinsleyEmail author
  • P. E. Bellamy
  • I. Newton
  • T. H. Sparks
Population Ecology Original Paper


Distributions of individual bird species in 151 small woods (size range 0.02–30 ha) were investigated in 3 consecutive years during which the abundance of certain species varied markedly. Relationships between the probabilities of certain bird species breeding and woodland area were described using incidence functions derived from logistic regression analysis. In general, for species which were largely dependent on woodland and seldom occurred in other habitats (such as hedgerows and gardens), the probability of breeding approached 100% only for woods of 10 ha and more, whereas species with less stringent habitat requirements occurred in the majority of woods, including those of 1 ha and less. The sensitivity of incidence functions to changes in regional abundance and the size distribution of the study woods was examined. For some species, distribution patterns could not be distinguished from those expected if pairs had been distributed in proportion to woodland area (random placement), but the majority did not conform to random placement in at least 1 of the 3 years. This nonconformity was consistent across all 3 years for some species, such as wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), despite substantial fluctuations in population sizes between years, while for others, such as robin (Erithacus rubecula), distribution patterns changed with changes in regional abundance. The results suggested that some species, such as wren and blackbird (Turdus merula), preferred small woods, while other species, such as chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), preferred large woods. For several other species, including robin, great tit (Parus major), long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) and marsh tit (P. palustris), small woods appeared to be sub-optimal under at least some conditions.

Key words

Bird species distributions Habitat fragmentation Incidence function Random placement Regional abundance 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. A. Hinsley
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. E. Bellamy
    • 1
  • I. Newton
    • 1
  • T. H. Sparks
    • 1
  1. 1.NERC Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Monks WoodHuntingdonUK

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