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Habitat utilization during the pairing season by the Common Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola in Baiposhan Natural Reserve, Sichuan, China

[ "Department of Ecology, College of Life Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China"]; [ "Institute of Rare Animal and Plants, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637002, China"]; [ "Department of Life Science and Technology, Yibing College, Yibing 644007 Sichuan Province, China"]; [ "Corresponding author, E-mail: "]
ORNITHOLOGICAL SCIENCE (Impact Factor: 0.62). 01/2009; DOI: 10.2326/1347-0558(2007)6[87:HUDTPS]2.0.CO;2

ABSTRACT A goal of many resource selection studies is to identify those habitats selected by a species. However, favorability of a particular habitat feature is likely contingent on such factors as landscape composition, predation risk, and an individual's resource needs. Identifying causes of variability in habitat utilization may serve to increase our understanding of the functional aspects of a species' habitat ecology. The Common Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola is a species that requires broadleaf forest, but whose populations have declined as a result of fragmentation of subtropical forest. While habitat conditions during the pairing season (March–April) are thought to be important for the Common Hill Partridge's survival and reproduction, information on habitat utilization during this period is limited. We investigated habitat utilization by Hill Partridges within Baiposhan Natural Reserve in the mountains of southwestern China. We used pointing dogs to locate Hill Partridges during the pairing seasons of 2004 and 2005, and measured habitat characteristics at 60 flush sites and 60 associated random sites (within 100 m of flush sites). We recorded information on terrain, vegetation traits and defoliation leaf layer. Hill Partridges mainly utilized sites within elevations of 2,400–2,900 m and with an east-facing slope of 28.6±2.9 degrees, close to water resources and roads. The utilized sites had greater tree cover, shrub cover and thicker defoliation layers than randomly available, whereas numbers of bamboo and bamboo cover were less at flush sites than at random sites. PCA indicated that concealment, food, terrain and water resources best explained the birds' habitat utilization. Forest management practices that reduce poaching, livestock and logging may benefit the Common Hill Partridge through raising habitat quality and availability. Based on habitat utilization patterns of the partridges, we discussed the difference of habitat between them and Sichuan Partridge A. rufipectus, and indicated that Common Hill Partridges in the reserve should be Common Hill Partridges rather than Sichuan Partridges.

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    ABSTRACT: A number of former forest farms in southern Sichuan province, south-west China have been designated as protected areas following the 1998 logging ban in the upper Yangtze basin. These are within the range of the endemic Sichuan Partridge Arborophila rufipectus which has a fragmented distribution in the remnant broadleaf forests of this region, and is currently listed as ‘Endangered’ by IUCN. The design of a robust conservation plan for this species has been hampered by a lack of knowledge about its habitat preferences in a heavily modified environment. To remedy this, ranging behaviour and habitat utilization by this species was studied through a combination of a call count method and radio tracking of individual birds. The results indicate that A. rufipectus significantly prefers primary and older planted secondary broadleaf forest compared to forest degraded by human activity or scrub. Individual birds were found on the upper parts of slopes and made particular use of areas with a dense canopy and open understorey, whilst avoiding the lower slopes and areas close to trails where human disturbance is likely to be greater. The ongoing conservation programme for this partridge species is based on these findings and includes further protected area designations and management plans, the establishment of new forest corridors, and better control of hunting and other forms of forest exploitation.
    Bird Conservation International 05/2009; 19(02):187 - 198. · 1.07 Impact Factor

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