Over the last 50 years, the modernisation and mechanisation of agricultural techniques caused important habitat alterations in agricultural ecosystems that lead to the decline of farmland wildlife populations throughout Europe. During 2008 and 2009, we investigated the effects of Habitat Improvement Actions (HIAs) and reforestations on populations of common pheasant Phasianus colchicus in order to evaluate the influence of both habitat management strategies on pheasant male density and distribution. We estimated the density of territorial males in four study areas located in the western Po Plain (northern Italy) through the method of crowing cock counts during the breeding season. We analysed the spatial distribution of territorial males in relation to the HIA and reforestation patches comparing points with crowing cocks with random ones. Moreover, we analysed the effects of habitat characteristics including HIAs and reforestations on male pheasant density by multiple regression analyses with theoretic information approach and multimodel inference. Our results showed that both HIAs and reforestations had an important role in determining male distribution. Moreover, HIAs and reforestations were good predictor variables of male pheasant density. We concluded that HIAs and reforestations provide common pheasant with suitable habitats and can represent proper solutions for enhancing habitat diversity and quality in intensive agro-ecosystems.
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Vol. 18 • No. 2