The Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana is a long-distance migrant that has suffered major population declines across much of its European breeding range. While northern populations are bound largely to farmland, Mediterranean populations are largely confined to habitats subject to recurrent wildfires. Habitat selection of the Ortolan Bunting was assessed in a recently burnt area in Catalonia at landscape and habitat scales. A Zero-inflated Poisson procedure was used to model the abundance of birds in relation to landscape and habitat variables. The most parsimonious landscape model predicted the highest abundance on south-facing slopes, with a gradient above 10°. The most parsimonious habitat model showed a positive quadratic effect of bare ground and regenerating oak Quercus spp., with predicted optima for abundance around 20–30% and 20% cover, respectively. There was a clear relationship between predicted abundance of the Ortolan Bunting and post-fire regenerating oak shrubs. South-facing, moderately sloping areas were favoured and bare ground was a key feature of the species’ habitat. A matrix combining patches of sparse oak shrubs and patches of bare ground appears to be the optimal breeding habitat in the Mediterranean. The maintenance or provision of similar habitat features, especially patches of bare ground, may prove crucial for the conservation of rapidly declining Ortolan Bunting populations on farmland across temperate Europe.
Menz, M. H. M., Brotons, L., & Arlettaz, R. (2009). Habitat selection by Ortolan Buntings Emberiza hortulana in post-fire succession in Ctalonia: implications for the conservation of farmland populations. IBIS: The International Journal of Avian Science, 151(4), 752-761. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2009.00961.x