Home range size of Tengmalm's owl during breeding in Central Europe is determined by prey abundance

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Abstract

Animal home ranges typically characterized by their size, shape and a given time interval can be affected by many different biotic and abiotic factors. However, despite the fact that many studies have addressed home ranges, our knowledge of the factors influencing the size of area occupied by different animals is, in many cases, still quite poor, especially among raptors. Using radio-telemetry (VHF; 2.1 g tail-mounted tags) we studied movements of 20 Tengmalm's owl (Aegolius funereus) males during the breeding season in a mountain area of Central Europe (the Czech Republic, the Ore Mountains: 50° 40' N, 13° 35' E) between years 2006-2010, determined their average hunting home range size and explored what factors affected the size of home range utilised. The mean breeding home range size calculated according to 95% fixed kernel density estimator was 190.7 ± 65.7 ha (± SD) with a median value of 187.1 ha. Home range size was affected by prey abundance, presence or absence of polygyny, the number of fledglings, and weather conditions. Home range size increased with decreasing prey abundance. Polygynously mated males had overall larger home range than those mated monogamously, and individuals with more fledged young possessed larger home range compared to those with fewer raised fledglings. Finally, we found that home ranges recorded during harsh weather (nights with strong wind speed and/or heavy rain) were smaller in size than those registered during better weather. Overall, the results provide novel insights into what factors may influence home range size and emphasize the prey abundance as a key factor for breeding dynamics in Tengmalm's owl.

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Kouba, M., Bartoš, L., Tomášek, V., Popelková, A., Šťastný, K., & Zárybnická, M. (2017). Home range size of Tengmalm’s owl during breeding in Central Europe is determined by prey abundance. PLoS ONE, 12(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177314

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