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In northern Finland, reindeer-herd management has experienced two major transitions: extensification of intensive herding, and development of supplementary/corral feeding in winter. The transitions were studied in six herding associations in different parts of the Finnish reindeer management area. It was suggested that intensive herding turns into more extensive forms as the reasons for intensive herding (predation, reindeer disappearing to foreign areas, protection of agricultural fields) gradually ceased to exist. The results of the study, based on interviews of elderly reindeer herders, were variable. In the three southern areas intensive herding changed to the free ranging system at the latest during WWII, whilst in the northern areas intensive herding was replaced by extensive herding with the aid of snowmobiles in the 1960s. In the southern herding associations, especially, supplementary/corral feeding in winter was considered necessary, from the 1970s onwards, to compensate for the loss of arboreal lichens associated with forest regeneration.
The nest-site requirements of the great bittern Botaurus stellaris females in relation to habitat availability were studied in 2003–2006 at fish-pond complexes located in the Lublin and Podlasie regions (eastern Poland). The structure of emergent vegetation and water depth were measured and described in 230 control squares and 98 squares with occupied nests. Water depth, vegetation cover, the height and diameter of reed shoots, the number of flowering shoots, the density of old (dry) and new (green) reed shoots were measured. Great bittern females nested in all available types of emergent vegetation and most of the nests were located in reedbeds. Using the logistic regression model it was shown that when choosing the place for nesting the great bitterns preferred reedbeds with a high density of old-reed stems.
We collected ants in ten replicated habitat types of an urban island and described their assemblages using Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling and Multivariate Regression Trees. Lasius niger was the most abundant species, followed by Myrmica rubra, Formica fusca, L. flavus and L. platythorax; these species comprised 87% of all 1133 nests of the 16 species found. Ant assemblages changed gradually from open habitats to sites with closed tree canopy. Species most tolerant to urban pressure were L. niger, L. flavus and M. rugulosa, whereas forest-associated species were scarce or absent. Successful urban species had extensive (Palaearctic) or more limited (Euro-Siberian) distribution. Common and abundant habitat generalists were overrepresented relative to rural areas; these were also efficiently dispersing pioneer species with independent colony founding. Lack of suitable (micro)habitat apparently hampered colonization of many species. Competitively superior, territorial species were rare or absent, as were species dependent on dead wood, and many species depending on other ants. The indicated reorganization of interspecific competitive relationships may be due to selective impoverishment of the urban species pool. Comparison with other urban studies suggested that in ants, faunal homogenization has not taken place on a European scale.
Chimango caracara (Milvago chimango) is a southern Neotropical species and the most common raptorial bird in the Pampean region of Argentina, where natural grasslands were completely transformed by agriculture and urbanization. We determined whether this species responds to the intensity of these human disturbances through changes in its abundance. To examine the response to agricultural intensity, both birds and land use were surveyed along 18 transects covering the regional agricultural gradient from pure arable to pure pastoral farming landscapes. To explore the effects of urbanization, birds were surveyed at 19 points along an urban—rural gradient. Results showed that chimango caracara did not respond to changes in agricultural intensity. No land use type was associated, either positively or negatively, with abundance in the arable or pastoral farming scenarios. In contrast, we observed a negative response to increasing urbanization, where a higher abundance was recorded in rural than in commercial or residential areas.
We analysed 2166 songs of 90 males of the tree pipit (Anthus trivialis; Passeriformes: Motacillidae) from five Czech localities to evaluate variation in song characteristics, the song structure and syntax rules, and differences between songs performed in flight and from perches. We measured temporal and spectral song characteristics; structure analysis was based on the identification of individual syllable units. There was a high among-population variation in the repertoire, suggesting substantial differences in local dialects. Flight and perched songs significantly differed in most analysed quantitative characteristics. While both types of songs are apparently used in territorial defence, trill elements within flight songs may also indicate male quality to potential mates. Characteristic bi-syllable repeats within songs were often unique for individual males and may function in individual recognition. Features of tree pipit songs make it a good species for studying song variation and function in birds with complex repertoires.
Genus Cheilosia (Diptera, Syrphidae) with more than 300 Palaearctic species is the most speciose group of hoverflies in Europe. One of the most widespread taxa with unclear taxonomic status is Cheilosia vernalis (Fallen, 1817). This species shows great morphological variation in external morphological characters. A subdivision of the taxon has been suggested, but the male terminalia of the different morphological forms appear identical. The aim of this study was to integrate the information from mitochondrial COI sequence data with re-evaluated morphological characters for exploring species boundaries and for revealing phylogenetic relationships of C. vernalis and closely related species. We sequenced a 698 bp fragment of the 3′-end of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase subunit I of 43 specimens agreeing with traditional morphological interpretation of C. vernalis (Diptera, Syrphidae), sampled from a broad geographic range in Europe and single representatives of 10 species of the vernalis—melanura complex. Parsimony analysis of the molecular data showed C. vernalis specimens grouped in three different lineages. The C. vernalis lineage presents 8 different mitochondrial haplotypes. We found no congruence between these haplotypes and diagnosable morphological characteristics of the adult fly specimens supporting species subdivision. Based on re-examination of type material two new synonyms are proposed: C. rotundiventris Becker, 1894 and C. ruficollis Becker, 1894 are junior synonyms of C. vernalis (Fallen, 1817). New diagnostic morphological character for C. reniformis Hellen, 1930 is added and first distribution data of this species in Europe are given. Taxonomic status of C. longifila Becker, 1894 remains unresolved.