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1 July 2022 When Gate Crashers Show Up: Does Expansion of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo in North-Western Italy Affect Breeding Site Selection in Grey Heron Ardea cinerea?
Alessandra Gagliardi, Damiano Preatoni, Stefano Volponi, Adriano Martinoli, Mauro Fasola
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Abstract

Breeding Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo have been rapidly increasing in Italy since the 1990s, and have settled their colonies in sites already used by other colonial waterbirds. We investigated the patterns of interference between Grey Herons Ardea cinerea and Great Cormorants, the two species most prone to competition due to their similar preference for nest sites. The analysis of long-term population trends in colonies with both species compared to colonies without Cormorants, showed that the number of Grey Heron nests gradually decreased following the settlement of Great Cormorants. The two species exhibited a gradual spatial segregation in nest location, both horizontally and vertically, within the same colony. In some heronries we found clear examples of interaction, but we also report cases where the interaction was less clear. Thus, although Great Cormorants might be competitively dominant over Grey Herons for nest site occupancy in many of their shared colonies, the spatial competition dynamics might also be influenced by factors affecting population dynamics in the wider environment. We envisage specific observations and focus on areas with an apparent abundance of trees suitable for nesting by both species.

Alessandra Gagliardi, Damiano Preatoni, Stefano Volponi, Adriano Martinoli, and Mauro Fasola "When Gate Crashers Show Up: Does Expansion of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo in North-Western Italy Affect Breeding Site Selection in Grey Heron Ardea cinerea?," Ardea 109(3), 583-591, (1 July 2022). https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v109i2.a25
Published: 1 July 2022
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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KEYWORDS
Great Cormorant
Grey Heron
interactions between species
Nesting site
north-western Italy
population trend
spatial segregation
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