GAYET G., GUILLEMAIN M., BENMERGUI M., MESLEARD F., BOULINIER T., BIENVENU J.P., FRITZ H. & BROYER J.
Foragers in patchy environments do not only select sites for single patch characteristics, but also have to consider the local environment of such patches. We studied habitat selection by mute swans Cygnus olor in a wide and heterogeneous fishpond region (the Dombes, eastern France). In this study, we considered fishpond isolation, resource quality within fishponds and breeding status of mute swans during both summer and winter. Mute swans did not select aquatic habitat randomly within the landscape. During summer, the population spread preferentially on medium to large fishponds, in subregions with numerous or closely related waterbodies, without generating a clumped distribution of birds. In addition to a positive effect of local fishpond number (2 km radius), breeding birds also responded positively to fishpond size. Non breeders selected fishponds mainly according to their size. Intraspecific territoriality did not appear to limit the presence of non-breeders (i.e. moulting flocks), since both breeders and non-breeders could coexist on the larger fishponds. During winter, mute swans used medium to large reflooded fishponds after summer drainage. Th e surrounding aquatic environment of fishponds played a minor role in determining flocking, compared to actual patch quality. Flocking occurred on large fishponds that had reflooded after having dried the summer before, whatever the agricultural cultivation practiced in the summer following drainage. The results suggest that geographical aspects should be taken into account when considering the potential impact of this expanding species within such ecosystems, and also in more general management policies dealing with aquatic habitats for waterbird populations.
Full bibliographical reference:
GAYET G., GUILLEMAIN M., BENMERGUI M., MESLEARD F., BOULINIER T., BIENVENU J.P., FRITZ H. & BROYER J., 2011. Effects of seasonality, isolation and patch quality for habitat selection processes by mute swans Cygnus olor in a fishpond landscape. Oikos 120 p801-812