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Brambilla M.,Fondazione Lombardia per lAmbiente | Fulco E.,Studio Naturalistico Milvus | Gustin M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Celada C.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia
Bird Study | Year: 2013

Capsule We analysed habitat preferences of Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica of the eastern subspecies (O. hispanica melanoleuca) in South Italy, considering 1-ha (coinciding with territory size) square plots (49 occupied and 49 unoccupied). We used multi-adaptive regression splines to model habitat preferences. Black-eared Wheatear occurrence was positively associated with three factors: aspect (a SE orientation was preferred), cover of grazed grassland and cover of bare ground. Species conservation should be based on the maintenance of grazed grasslands, especially on SE-facing slopes, and including at least 2500 m2 of bare ground per ha. © 2013 British Trust for Ornithology.

BRAMBILLA M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | GUSTIN M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | FULCO E.,Studio Naturalistico Milvus | SORACE A.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | CELADA C.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2016

Habitat selection has fundamental implications for species conservation, and in birds is often regarded as a multi-scale process. We investigated (under an information-theoretic approach) habitat selection by Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator in Italy (one of the most severely declining species in central and western Europe), considering five main types of potential determinants of shrike occurrence at the territory scale (1 ha): general structure (coarse landscape), woody vegetation, grassland habitats/bare ground, herbaceous crops, and management variables. The best supported models for species occurrence were those including general structure and woody vegetation traits. Variation partitioning suggested that overall, landscape general structure and woody vegetation explained the highest variation in shrike occurrence, and management the lowest. However, considering variation explained by only a single level, all levels performed nearly equally, but general structure did not explain an exclusive proportion of variation. A multi-level analysis suggested that shrike occurrence was eventually associated with specific habitat traits: isolated trees, shrubland and (secondarily) olive groves (all with positive effects), and dirt roads (negative effect). The most parsimonious multi-level models included only variables from woody vegetation and management traits, suggesting that the likely true determinants of species occurrence are highly specific and fine-scale habitat traits, consistent with variation partitioning. Woodchat Shrikes inhabit semi-open landscapes, within which they are attracted to shrubland and isolated trees (secondarily to olive groves) and avoid dirt roads. Suitable habitat conditions for the species depend on a trade-off between abandonment and intensive farming, and rural development programmes may be crucial for the conservation (or loss) of such conditions. Copyright © BirdLife International 2016

Brambilla M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Gustin M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Celada C.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Conservation of animal species should start from real needs of protection and intervention shown by species and their habitats, but it is often driven by the perception which humans have of species, as the latter enables fund raising and attracts financial resources for conservation actions. However, this approach dominated by the so-called flagship species has been severely criticised, because of the associated risk of directing resources to charismatic species while neglecting threatened ones. An analysis of conservation status in relation to species appeal, habitat, sociality, body length and population size outlined how the more "appealing" bird species in Italy have better conservation status. This is likely due to an over-representation of most appealing species in conservation projects and suggests that a more careful and status-based prioritization of conservation efforts should be adopted. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Brambilla M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Celada C.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Gustin M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2014

Setting Favourable Reference Values (FRVs) can assist the definition of the conservation status of a species. FRVs may consider population, habitat, and range. FRVs can indicate a range of values for different parameters, which should allow the long-term persistence of a species/population. We propose a method for the definition of reference values for the habitat (FRV-H or HRV) of breeding bird species. HRV should cover habitat extent and quality, both required to ensure long-term persistence. Extent HRV should express a measure of suitable area, whereas quality HRV could be defined as the range of values for habitat variables known to affect habitat quality. To define an extent HRV, we built species distribution models (SDMs) and set extent HRV as the extent of potentially suitable habitat under a conservative approach. Quality HRV should refer to environmental determinants/correlates of occurrence and breeding success, and should be defined by the identification of the habitat factors affecting occurrence and reproduction. When habitat selection is adaptive, habitat suitability may approximate habitat quality, being correlated with breeding success. In that case, fine-scaled habitat/distribution models may be used to identify determinants/correlates of reproductive output, and such species-habitat relationships may help define quality HRV. We show examples using the Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio as a model. The use of habitat selection models, which can be made spatially explicit generating distribution models, may assist the definition of both extension and quality HRVs. Species-habitat models can allow the individuation of factors and relative values affecting species occurrence/reproduction (quality HRV), and the definition of the spatial distribution and quantity of potentially suitable habitat (extent HRV). Our approach is one of the possible ones, aiming at finding a suitable trade-off between affordable data and scientific precision. HRVs should be used together with population and range FRVs to assess the status of a species/population. Copyright © BirdLife International 2013A.

Brambilla M.,Settore Biodiversita e Aree protette | Gustin M.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Vitulano S.,Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli LIPU BirdLife Italia | Falco R.,Settore Biodiversita e Aree protette | And 4 more authors.
Regional Environmental Change | Year: 2016

Habitat loss and degradation are main global threats to biodiversity, and land-use changes in agriculture-dominated landscapes are crucial for an important portion of biodiversity, especially in Europe. We evaluated the effects of land-use changes (1954–2012) on a threatened species, the ortolan bunting, in an agricultural area crucial for its conservation in Italy. We built a distribution model for ortolan bunting in current landscapes and then re-projected it to past scenarios (1954 and 1999–2000). We evaluated the most important land-use changes occurred and estimated their effects on habitat suitability. Bunting occurrence was mostly affected by the extent of grassland (positively; used as foraging/breeding ground), shrubland (quadratic effect; perches/shelter), forest and urbanized land (negatively), and by solar radiation (positively) and slope (quadratic), consistent with other studies carried out especially in southern Europe. The potential distribution of the species was much larger in the past: the estimated decline in suitable habitat is 44–72 % (since 1999–2000/1954), coherent with historical data suggesting strong decline and contraction. Changes in suitability (1954–2012) were mostly associated with changes in the cover of forest, vineyards and abandoned areas (negatively), and shrubland (positively). Land-use/land-cover changes are the main drivers of species occurrence and of habitat decline. The heterogeneous landscape of hilly/low-mountain sites in this area, characterized by a mix of habitats offering complementary resources to ortolan buntings and other species of conservation concern, is currently threatened by abandonment and intensification, but its maintenance may be promoted by a correct definition of Rural Development Programme measures. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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