Nest site selection of a primary hole-nesting passerine reveals means to developing sustainable forestry

E. Vatka, K. Kangas, M. Orell, S. Lampila, A. Nikula, V. Nivala

Published online: 
14 January 2014

Anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation affect populations worldwide. For example, many bird populations of boreal forests have declined due to intensive forestry. To target conservation actions for such species, determining the key factors that affect their habitat selection is essential. Remote sensing methods provide highly potential means to measure habitat variables over large areas. We aim at identifying the key-features of habitats by utilizing remote sensing data. As a case example, we study the nest site selection of a primary hole-nesting passerine, the willow tit Poecile montanus, in a managed forest landscape. Using presence–absence data, we determine the most important habitat characteristics of the nest sites for three spatial scales by generalized linear mixed effect models. Our results highlight the importance of the availability of nesting sites – standing decaying deciduous trees – in the nest site selection of P. montanus. It seems to prefer moist habitats with high densities of deciduous trees and to avoid open areas, but does not require mature or intact habitats. Most of the nest site selection seems to occur within small scales. In this case, remote sensing data alone was insufficient for producing reliable models, but adding information of an ecologically important feature from direct field surveys greatly improved model performances. For the conservation and maintenance of dead wood dependent species, changes in forestry practices are necessary to keep the key characteristics of the habitat. Most importantly, continuous availability of standing decaying wood should be secured.