The occurrence of hazel grouse Bonasa bonasia in forest patches in a heavily human-impacted landscape with a matrix dominated by agricultural fields in northeastern China was documented four times during autumn and spring 2000–2002. The occurrence of hazel grouse in fragmented landscapes in Europe is influenced by patch isolation, size and composition. In China, we found that patch composition and size, and their interaction, best explained the pattern of hazel grouse occurrence, with a greater probability that grouse were found in larger patches with more deciduous trees. In contrast to results from Europe, isolation distance was not an important explanatory variable. In addition, hazel grouse in China used patches with a higher deciduous component. Thus, although still vulnerable to habitat fragmentation, Asian hazel grouse seem to be less vulnerable than European hazel grouse. One reason may be that Asian hazel grouse are adapted to more open, deciduous-dominated habitats and form flocks in winter, which may allow them to move more freely over open habitats to forest patches. Continued habitat fragmentation and the planting of small forest patches to coniferous-dominated forest are detrimental to hazel grouse in the study area. Future plantings should contain more deciduous trees and consideration to the landscape effects reported here should be given.
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Vol. 9 • No. 4