European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 337–347 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal variation of a Pinus seed rain available for an endemic finch in an insular environment

  • Eduardo Garcia-del-Rey
  • Nikos Nanos
  • Unai López-de-Heredia
  • Pascual Gil Muñoz
  • Rüdiger Otto
  • José María Fernández-Palacios
  • Luis Gil
Original Paper


A major goal of avian ecological research is to determine how distribution and abundance of preferred resources available influence population dynamics and contribute to understand life-history characteristics. Food is widely considered the ultimate factor influencing these traits. We studied, with seed traps, the spatiotemporal variability of Pinus canariensis seed rain during 2007–2008, as a means to explain why a post-dispersal seed predator of conservation concern, the endemic blue chaffinch Fringilla teydea, can adjust its annual life cycle with this variation in an insular environment. Generalized linear mixed models and geostatistical tools were used. Results highlight that temperature and relative humidity are important predictors of seed release rates. Additionally, a high temporal variation was detected in seed abundance (i.e., peaks of massive seed release during the summer months, intermediate values in the autumn, and minimum release rates in winter and spring). Finally, within-stand spatial variation in seed flux was surprisingly large with the most productive microsites receiving three to four times more seeds than the least productive ones. Pine seeds showed a high protein value and a low germination rate. Based on these findings, we suggest that the fortunes of the blue chaffinch should be intimately related to spatiotemporal annual P. canariensis seed crops, temperature acting as a proximate cue, and food availability as the ultimate factor. For the endangered blue chaffinch population on Gran Canaria, we recommend, until more data are available, improving the seed supply during the winter season, either artificially (feeders) or naturally (planting Myrica faya shrubs).


Mediterranean Fringilla teydea Pinus canariensis Seed trap Seed rain Canary Islands Conservation implications 



The first author was supported by the Excmo. Cabildo Insular de Tenerife as a collaboration contract with the Ecology Department of the University of La Laguna and the Forest Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics Unit of the E.T.S. Forestry Engineering (Technical University of Madrid). Earlier version of this manuscript has benefited from the interesting comments of Prof. Christopher M. Perrins, Prof. Ian Newton, and Dr. Will Cresswell (Royal Society University Research Fellow). This manuscript has also benefited from the comments of two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo Garcia-del-Rey
    • 1
  • Nikos Nanos
    • 2
  • Unai López-de-Heredia
    • 2
  • Pascual Gil Muñoz
    • 3
  • Rüdiger Otto
    • 1
  • José María Fernández-Palacios
    • 1
  • Luis Gil
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de La LagunaLa Laguna, TenerifeSpain
  2. 2.School of Forest EngineeringTechnical University of MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Sección de Montes, Medio Ambiente, Cabildo Insular de TenerifeSanta Cruz de TenerifeSpain

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