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This paper evaluates the role of ecological densities (densities in a given habitat) in predicting the ability of forest passerines to occupy fragments of eight oak Quercus spp. forest archipelagos of the Iberian Plateaux. Ecological density of individual species was the main predictor of their occurrence in fragments, whereas other biological traits (nesting site) and some potentially important landscape features (local cover of forests or distance to possible sources of individuals) were not correlated to fragment occupation. Feeding substrata of birds was also related to their comparative ability to occupy fragments since, after controlling for the effects of abundance and nesting site, foliage exploiters were more frequent in fragments. These results, that support the empirical usefulness of the random sampling hypothesis in predicting the ability of species to persist in fragments, may be affected by some particular features of the study area. Oak forests of the Iberian Peninsula have been heavily affected by human disturbance for a long time so that interior forest birds are now scarce or extinct and species adapted to shrubby forests form the bulk of these bird communities. It is possible that these species will not perceive differences in the habitat suitability of fragments, increasing the likelihood that stochastic sampling processes dictate their patch occupancy.