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Banchory, United Kingdom

Borchtchevski V.,Ik Skryabin State Academy Of Veterinary Science | Moss R.,Station House
Ornis Fennica | Year: 2014

Skulls of Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) males collected in NW Russia in 1980-2008 showed two different types of age structure. In native forest and bog-forest tracts with high Capercaillie density (-2.0 birds/km2 in spring) there were relatively more 2- and 3-year-old males and correspondingly fewer yearlings and youngsters. The converse applied over the vast adjacent logged areas where Capercaillie density was lower (~ 0.6 birds/km2), with fewer 2- and 3-year-old males and more yearlings and youngsters. The results were consistent with emigration of youngsters from native into logged areas and a reverse movement of maturing cocks attempting to join the big leks on native areas. The v evidence suggested that survival of cocks over 3 years old was low in both habitat types, perhaps due to continued emigration from logged areas plus mortality associated with competition for status at the big leks on native areas. Such movements presumably occur mostly at times of high population density. Source

Moss R.,Station House | Storch I.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Muller M.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Wildlife Biology | Year: 2010

Biological research on birds of the grouse family has become increasingly related to conservation. We review trends in grouse biology, analysing the representation of species and topics in the titles of 2,788 papers published since 1930. Ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus, the most frequently studied species before 1960, was overtaken by willow ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus in the 1970s, after which black grouse Tetrao tetrix and capercaillie Tetrao urogallus became increasingly popular until they were the most-studied species in the 2000s. The new focus on conservation ecology involves increased interest in the topics of threatened taxa, genetics and conservation. A new appreciation of the role of large, landscape-scale processes in population dynamics and conservation management is shown by an increase in publications on landscape ecology and habitat, enabled by technical advances in telemetry, genetics and mapping systems. Meanwhile, the number of papers on disease, diet, behaviour and reproduction has declined. The topics of climate change, human disturbance and pollution had few hits, but we anticipate that interest in them will increase as the current emphasis on conservation continues. This may well involve improved genetic and GIS techniques for determining dispersal patterns, habitat connectivity and population viability, along with a better understanding of how grouse survive their predators and other enemies. Better communication of experiences in management for grouse conservation is needed. © 2010 Wildlife Biology. Source

Hodgson J.G.,Station House | Montserrat-Marti G.,CSIC - Pyrenean Institute of Ecology | Charles M.,University of Sheffield | Jones G.,University of Sheffield | And 16 more authors.
Annals of Botany | Year: 2011

Background and Aims: Specific leaf area (SLA), a key element of the 'worldwide leaf economics spectrum', is the preferred 'soft' plant trait for assessing soil fertility. SLA is a function of leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and leaf thickness (LT). The first, LDMC, defines leaf construction costs and can be used instead of SLA. However, LT identifies shade at its lowest extreme and succulence at its highest, and is not related to soil fertility. Why then is SLA more frequently used as a predictor of soil fertility than LDMC? • Methods: SLA, LDMC and LT were measured and leaf density (LD) estimated for almost 2000 species, and the capacity of LD to predict LDMC was examined, as was the relative contribution of LDMC and LT to the expression of SLA. Subsequently, the relationships between SLA, LDMC and LT with respect to soil fertility and shade were described. • Key Results: Although LD is strongly related to LDMC, and LDMC and LT each contribute equally to the expression of SLA, the exact relationships differ between ecological groupings. LDMC predicts leaf nitrogen content and soil fertility but, because LT primarily varies with light intensity, SLA increases in response to both increased shade and increased fertility. • Conclusions: Gradients of soil fertility are frequently also gradients of biomass accumulation with reduced irradiance lower in the canopy. Therefore, SLA, which includes both fertility and shade components, may often discriminate better between communities or treatments than LDMC. However, LDMC should always be the preferred trait for assessing gradients of soil fertility uncoupled from shade. Nevertheless, because leaves multitask, individual leaf traits do not necessarily exhibit exact functional equivalence between species. In consequence, rather than using a single stand-alone predictor, multivariate analyses using several leaf traits is recommended. © The Author 2011. Source

Moss R.,Station House | Leckie F.,Natural Research | Biggins A.,Natural Research | Poole T.,RSPB Scotland | And 2 more authors.
Wildlife Biology | Year: 2014

Leisure activities in fragmented western European forests are thought to threaten local populations of capercaillie Tetrao urogallus. We studied impacts of human disturbance on capercaillie in three Scottish woods by documenting the distribution of their droppings in relation to woodland tracks and entrances, surrogates for human activity. Droppings were sparser within 300-800 m of entrances and 70-235 m of tracks, depending on track use and habitat. Some 75% of each wood lay within 130 m of a track. In the most disturbed wood, droppings were most abundant in the centres of larger patches of trackless boggy ground, which acted as refuges. The reproductive rate (chicks reared per hen) at our three study areas was no less than in other, less disturbed parts of the same valley. The ratio of full-grown hens to cocks, however, was unusually low in the two most disturbed woods. Disturbance reduces the birds' living space, possibly affecting hens more than cocks. It might therefore impact metapopulation dynamics and contribute to genetic impoverishment in small populations. Ensuring that people and dogs keep to tracks, closing tracks and creating refuges should mitigate such effects. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Moss R.,Station House | Borchtchevski V.,Ik Skryabin State Academy Of Veterinary Science
Ornis Fennica | Year: 2015

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) males in the remnant unlogged forest of NW Russia have an unusual age structure, with more older than younger birds. In logged forest, the more normal opposite occurs. A possible explanation involves two-way movement in which youngsters disperse from unlogged to logged forest and older birds, up to their third spring, do the reverse. As Capercaillie cocks do not generally attain mating status until their third spring or later, both movements could be classed as natal dispersal. We develop a two-compartment population model that shows how this could happen and make a first approximation of the numbers and distances that would be involved. The model highlights gaps in knowledge that should be addressed by further fieldwork. Source

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