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Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 152, Issue 2, pp 319–329 | Cite as

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla numbers, phenology and reproduction in a primeval forest—a 33-year study

  • Tomasz WesołowskiEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Data on Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla gathered in 1975–2007 in an old-growth primeval forest (Białowieża National Park, Poland) are analysed to see whether the species numbers, breeding phenology or reproduction showed any long-term trends. Neither the clutch size (mean 4.8) nor the nesting success (c. 38%) changed, but a number of directional changes during 33 years were observed. In comparison with the 1970s, in the twenty-first century, Blackcaps arrived over 2 weeks earlier, but advanced egg-laying by only 8 days. The breeding numbers increased threefold; they had been increasing slowly before 2000, but almost exponentially from 2001 onwards. The densities raised to c. 10 pairs/10 ha in luxuriant riverine habitats. Due to structural changes in the oak-hornbeam habitat, in the twenty-first century, Blackcaps situated nests lower and less frequently in conifers. The numerical increases were only partially accountable by structural changes in local habitats, but they were concordant with large-scale increases of Blackcaps across W Europe. It is hypothesised that the forest has recently been invaded by Blackcaps from strongly increasing, SW migrating, populations.

Keywords

Timing of breeding Clutch size Nesting success Nest site Arrival date 

Zusammenfassung

Daten über Mönchsgrasmücken, die zwischen 1975 und 2007 in einem ursprünglich gewachsenen Urwald (Białowieża Nationalpark, Polen) gesammelt wurden, wurden analysiert, um herauszufinden, ob Anzahl, Brutphänologie oder Fortpflanzung dieser Art irgendwelche Langzeit-Trends zeigen. Weder Gelegegröße (im Mittel 4,8) noch Bruterfolg (ca. 38%) änderten sich, doch eine Reihe gerichteter Veränderungen wurde während der 33 Jahre beobachtet. Im Vergleich zu den 1970er Jahren trafen die Grasmücken im 21. Jahrhundert mehr als zwei Wochen früher ein, begannen mit der Eiablage jedoch lediglich acht Tage eher. Die Anzahl brütender Tiere stieg um das Dreifache; vor dem Jahr 2000 war die Zunahme langsam gewesen, seit 2001 ist sie jedoch nahezu exponentiell. In üppigen Flusshabitaten stieg die Dichte auf ca. 10 Paare/10 ha an. Aufgrund von Strukturveränderungen im Eichen-Hainbuchen-Habitat legten Mönchsgrasmücken im 21. Jahrhundert ihre Nester niedriger und weniger häufig in Nadelbäumen an. Die zahlenmäßige Zunahme war nur zum Teil durch Strukturveränderungen in lokalen Habitaten zu erklären, stand jedoch im Einklang mit großräumigen Zunahmen von Mönchsgrasmücken in Westeuropa. Es wird die Hypothese aufgestellt, dass in letzter Zeit Mönchsgrasmücken aus stark zunehmenden, nach Südwesten wandernden Populationen in den Wald eingedrungen sind.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The collection of data that formed the basis of this paper would not have been possible without the help of several people. I express my gratitude to M. Czuchra, D. Czeszczewik, G. Hebda, J. Lontkowski, M. Maziarz, C. Mitrus, P. Rowiński, T. Stawarczyk, S. Springer, L. Tomiałojć and W. Walankiewicz for their help in collecting field data. I am especially grateful to K. Weidinger for his help in running the nest success analyses, getting access to literature and for his valuable suggestions pertaining to data interpretation.

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Avian EcologyWrocław UniversityWrocławPoland

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