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We test whether the spatial distribution of birds within a habitat is determined by predation risk and also by interspecific competition. The work was carried out in a montane mixed forest of central Spain with four Parus species, the long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) and the nuthatch (Sitta europaea). Experimental feeders, that varied in their risk of predation, were used to control the effect of natural variations in food availability and quality on the habitat use patterns of different species. Tree gleaning passerines avoided feeding on dark inner forest places far from edges, distant from protective cover, outside the inner tree canopy and near the ground; they preferred deciduous, relatively clear forest plots. These effects remained invariable across years and weather conditions. There was a common pattern of selection of foraging locations by the four Parus species: proximity to cover and height above ground and over the lowest branches of the tree canopy positively influenced the use of feeding places. According to these patterns, the vigilance proportion of species was significantly higher when feeding far from cover than when birds were feeding near pine foliage. This pattern was also common for the four studied Parus species. Nevertheless, the interspecific dominance hierarchy of the species was positively correlated with the use of the safest feeders (feeders farther the ground and nearer from protective cover within tree canopy), being the converse with the most exposed ones. Therefore, the results of this paper demonstrate that the selection of feeding locations within habitat follows a pattern minimizing predation risk. Interspecific dominance hierarchies can lead to the exploitation of unfavourable risky patches by subordinate species.