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"]
ORNITHOLOGICAL SCIENCE (Impact Factor: 0.28). 01/2009; 6(Dec 2007):87-94. DOI: 10.2326/1347-0558(2007)6[87:HUDTPS]2.0.CO;2


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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Available from: Wen Bo Liao, Apr 05, 2014
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    • "The Arborophila are a galliform group native to Asia, with 21 species in China and southeastern Asia (Collar et al. 2001, Liao et al. 2007a). Sichuan Partridges are protected in China and classified as endangered by the IUCN (2005) because of their restricted range (1800 km 2 ), small population (< 2000 birds), and severely fragmented habitat (King & Li 1988, Dai et al. 1998, Li et al. 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: A detailed understanding of habitat associations of threatened species is essential for the development of sound conservation and habitat management plans. The globally endangered Sichuan Partridge is endemic to montane southwestern China, where it inhabits subtropical broadleaf forest. Its use of various habitats within the forest is poorly known. Habitat use by Sichuan Partridges in Laojunshan Nature Reserve, Sichuan, was studied during the breeding season (April—October). Habitat characteristics at feeding places were compared with randomly selected sites. Auditory detection was used during transect surveys of calling males to locate birds and their feeding scrape sites. Partridges were recorded in primary and secondary broadleaf forest, but not in coniferous plantations or farmland and settlements. Birds occurred between 1400 and 1800 m a. s. l., typically on the ground with a gentle slope of between five and 15 degrees, close to paths and water sources. The habitats used by Sichuan Partridges differed from the random sites in that they had a denser shrub layer, greater tree cover, thicker deciduous leaf depth and lower abundance of bamboo. Principal Components Analysis identified factors interpretable as concealment, topography and leaf litter depth as key axes of variation in Sichuan Partridge habitats. We suggest that habitat management plans incorporating this new information can now focus more effectively on identifying, protecting and restoring those sites within protected areas that are most suitable for the Sichuan Partridge.
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