Adaptive plasticity of blue tits (parus caeruleus) and great tits (parus major) breeding in natural and semi-natural insular habitats

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Abstract

The breeding performance and foraging of blue and great tits, and the abundance of arthropods living on the trees of an oak-wood and of a coniferous reafforestation were studied in Sicily, in order to: 1) compare breeding parameters in natural and semi-natural habitats within the same area; 2) estimate the degree of overlap in peak resource and peak demand of young tits, and the overlap of nestling diet of the two species in the two habitats. Both species had earlier laying dates, laid more eggs and raised more fledglings in the oakwood than in the reafforestation; they achieved the same fledging success within the same habitat type. These differences are probably due to the earlier and higher food peak in oak compared to pine. Food brought to the nestlings differed between habitats and between species: blue tits always brought small prey from a limited number of taxa, while great tits changed both prey taxa and size depending on habitat. The more flexible food of the great tit is in line with the smaller reduction in number of fledglings in pine reafforestation compared to oak-wood. It is suggested that tits have developed a mechanism to lay eggs at different dates in accordance with the habitat resource where adults catch prey for nestlings. Finally, mean clutch sizes of blue tits between habitats were well correlated, but the process seemed different in the great tit. Significant correlation was indeed detected between the proportion of great tits breeding in oakwood and the difference in the clutch size between the habitats. This suggests that more great tits settled in oakwood in years when conditions were more suitable to produce bigger clutches. © 2004 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)209-217
RivistaTHE ITALIAN JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY
Volume71
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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