Patterns and strategies of winter habitat selection in alpine capercaillie


  • Ilse Storch

    1. Inst of Wildlife Research and Management, Univ of Munich, Hohenbachernstr 22, D-8050 Freising, and Munich Wildlife Society, PO Box 170, D-8103 Oberammergau, Germany
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Based on radio telemetry, habitat distribution of 32 individual capercaillie Tetrao urogallus was compared with habitat availability at various levels of scale At forest stand level, capercaillie preferred large patches of late succession stages, and selected for moderate canopy closure and high abundance of feeding trees Hens and cocks selected home ranges with high proportions of old forest, and range size was related to old forest fragmentation Winter survival was high independently of habitat selection In cocks, habitat use was affected by social spacing, home range size and use of old forest were age-dependent, and habitat composition of winter ranges indirectly related to survival and mating success in spring Topography influenced habitat selection, as the birds preferred gentle slopes At the landscape scale, the distribution of bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus was the key to capercaillie habitat use, indicating that habitat requirements in autumn and spring influenced selection of winter ranges The study confirms that capercaillie in central Europe select habitats according to structural features typical of the boreal forests of the species' main distribution range However, spatio-temporal variation in resource abundance at the landscape scale sets significant limits to suitability of alpine capercaillie habitats