Between- and within-habitat distribution of the Canary Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs ombriosa): a test of the food abundance hypothesis

Authors: VALIDO, A., TELLERÍA, J. L. and CARRASCAL, L. M.

Published: Volume 41(1), June 1994. Pages 29-35.

Language: English

Keywords: Canarian Common Chaffinch, density, food availability, habitat distribution and habitat use.

Summary:

Population density and foraging behaviour of the Canary Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs ombriosa) was studied in a pine wood and an evergreen forest at El Hierro island (Canary Islands) to test the influence of food availability on habitat selection during the breeding season. Chaffinch density was significantly lower in the pine wood than in the evergreen forest. In the pine wood chaffinches mainly foraged in the foliage, whereas in the evergreen forest foraging was restricted almost exclusively to the ground. Differences in food intake rate between habitats and substrates were directly associated with differences in population density and use of foraging substrates. These patterns of density variation and foraging behaviour in chaffinches were consistent with food availability (arthropod abundance and prey size). Our results support the hypothesis that food availability is very important in selection of habitat by passerines during the breeding season. The resource abundance hypothesis may represent an alternative view to the previously accepted hypothesis which supports that there has been competitive exclusion with the Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) to explain the between habitat distribution of the Common Chaffinch among islands.

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