Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia

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Salek M.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Cervinka J.,University of South Bohemia | Cervinka J.,Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic | Banea O.C.,Str. Papiu Ilarian | And 6 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2014

The main objective of this study was to analyze the habitat use and population densities of the golden jackal in four countries across lowland regions of the Balkan Peninsula, known as the core area of the species' distribution in Europe. Using indirect (acoustic) method for detecting territorial golden jackals, we surveyed jackal presence and densities on 331 monitoring sites in four countries, covering area an of 4,296 km2 in total during April and May 2007-2012. We used GIS to assess landscape and environmental characteristics in a 2-km circular buffer (12.6 km2) around calling stations. Average population density of golden jackals in the study areas ranged between 0.6 and 1.1 territorial groups/10 km2 (mean ± SE, 0.6 ± 0.06 groups/10 km2), with several high-density areas with up to 4.8 territorial groups/10 km2. Analysis of habitat use showed that for both jackal occurrence and number of jackal groups, the only significant parameter was the interaction between country and intensity of agriculture, indicating that jackals adapt their habitat selection patterns in relation to the habitat availability. We observed that selection of the more suitable habitats (shrub-herbaceous vegetation/heterogeneous agricultural vegetation) increased with lower proportion of these habitat types in the study area. Our study confirms high habitat plasticity of the golden jackal and offers explanation for its recent range expansion, which might be connected with the land use changes during the last decades in the Balkan Peninsula. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Mikulic K.,Association BIOM | Radovic A.,University of Zagreb | Kati V.,University of Patras | Jelaska S.D.,University of Zagreb | Tepic N.,National Center for External Evaluation of Education
Community Ecology | Year: 2014

Land abandonment is a widespread phenomenon in agricultural systems, especially in former communist countries of Eastern and South-eastern Europe. Moreover, Croatia was affected by acts of war which enhanced the depopulation of marginal areas impelling further land abandonment. Agricultural landscapes in Croatia are highly parcelled with various proportions of forest habitats due to traditional smallholder farming systems. Secondary successions as a consequence of land abandonment affect farmland birds that are among the most endangered bird species in Europe. We examined bird communities along a habitat gradient in heterogeneous agricultural landscapes. We used the share of woody vegetation cover as a proxy measure for land abandonment that we classified in four classes. Our results showed no significant Shannon Wiener Index differences of bird communities along the land abandonment gradient. However, there were differences in abundances when we examined bird guilds such as farmland, forest and "other" birds separately. However, the conservation value of each of the four land abandonment classes did not show significant differences. We extracted single bird species such as the Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) as potential indicator species for the four examined land abandonment levels. With these four species we successfully modelled the distribution of the recorded bird assemblages at the plot level along the four vegetation succession stages. We emphasized the need to develop new and integrative land use management concepts for areas affected by land abandonment in order to formulate sound conservation policy. © Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest.

Radovic A.,University of Zagreb | Nikolov S.C.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds | Tepic N.,National Center for External Evaluation of Education | Mikulic K.,Association BIOM | And 2 more authors.
Folia Zoologica | Year: 2013

The abandonment of less productive agricultural land and the intensification of agricultural land use are the main features of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that Croatia will enforce now as new member of the EU. Due to demographic changes and the economic transition in Croatia resulting from war in the 1990s, substantial tracts of agricultural land were abandoned. We investigated two habitat types in the protected floodplain landscape of Lonjsko polje in the continental part of the country: arable land and pastures. Both habitats were maintained by agricultural management and suffered from partial abandonment. Land abandonment increased the susceptibility to encroachment by the invasive plant species Amorpha fruticosa. Data on bird communities were obtained during the breeding season in 2010 while there were high water levels in the floodplain. Data were collected from 63 points, and a total of 1447 individuals from 70 species were recorded during the study. We found that the bird community structure was primarily related to the presence/abandonment of agricultural land use and the habitat type. Further, we detected that the bird community structure in the same habitat type differed by management intensity. Open habitat specialists were most influenced by land abandonment. However, the conservation value (according to the Species of European Conservation Concern value, SPEC) of grazed pastures and abandoned pastures did not differ significantly, in part because the overgrown pastures with high water levels were found to be suitable for Acrocephalus species. The shift in bird community structure between abandoned and managed arable lands were smaller than those detected in the pastoral communities. Because land abandonment is a widespread phenomenon in Croatia, we emphasize the urgent need for a nationwide monitoring program for farmland birds to register the resulting changes in farmland bird communities and to develop appropriate agri-environment measures to mitigate the process.

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