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3 June 2016 Land-cover patterns surrounding Caucasian grouse leks in Arasbaran region, East Azerbaijan, Iran
Nader Habibzadeh, Omid Rafieyan
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Context . To create management strategies with the goal of sustaining a species such as Caucasian grouse (Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi), it is important to identify the habitat requirements of species, not just in terms of a correlation with a given habitat feature, but also the relationship between species presence and vegetation coverage, proximity to other habitat types, and importance at different spatial scales.

Aims . To predict the proportions and spatial configuration of major habitat types that are associated with high probabilities of Caucasian grouse lek occurrence.

Methods . Using minimum mapping-unit scale (i.e. grain) for land cover, we applied spatial analysis at three spatial extents (472-, 702- and 867-m-radius circles) to assess how the importance of different land-cover patterns and patch characteristics surrounding leks of Caucasian grouse changed with scale within the Arasbaran landscape (316.56 km2) in East Azerbaijan, Iran. A set of a priori models has been developed on the basis of landscape metrics linked to hypotheses that could explain the spatial pattern of Caucasian black habitat use at each scale. We used an information-theoretic approach based on Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) within a general additive models framework to model habitat selection, so as to compare the values of landscape metrics calculated for Caucasian grouse lek sites (n = 22) with those calculated for non-lek points (n = 44).

Key results . The probability of lek occurrence at each of the spatial scales increases with a larger amount of open, young forests in the landscape. At each scale, we could indicate the landscape composition and structure required to create an ideal habitat mosaic for Caucasian grouse. Such an ideal habitat mosaic within mountain forests of Arasbaran, for a 702-m-radius area around a potential lek site, would consist of non-square (i.e. more geometrically complex) patches of rangeland cover and deciduous stands with canopy cover of <50%, which encompass over 30% of landscape.

Conclusions . Our results identified differences in black grouse requirements at several scales within the landscape. We believe this will help managers improve the habitat focusing on the area around existing or inactive leks, to adapt the landscape to species requirements, and to encourage targeting new sites.

Implications . These findings demonstrated that not only can we identify important landscape requirements at a range of scales, but by characterising landscape composition and structure across these scales, forest managers can help prioritise combinations of habitats that best serve the conservation of the target species.

© The authors 2016
Nader Habibzadeh and Omid Rafieyan "Land-cover patterns surrounding Caucasian grouse leks in Arasbaran region, East Azerbaijan, Iran," Wildlife Research 43(3), 267-275, (3 June 2016).
Received: 22 September 2015; Accepted: 1 March 2016; Published: 3 June 2016
courtship sites (lek)
general additive models (GAM)
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