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Model development for capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) habitat in the Jura Mountains (Western Switzerland)
Game and Wildlife Science
Capercaillie, Tetrao urogallus, is a threatened species in central Europe, and Swiss populations declined 40 to 50 % between 1970 and 1985. Capercaillie are sensitive to forest structure, and loss of habitat is a major cause of their decline. Knowledge of habitat characteristics is therefore essential for capercaillie conservation. Here, we present models predicting capercaillie probability of occurrence, based on relevant structural habitat variables. Models were built using multiple logistic regression analyses on capercaillie presence/absence data. Vegetation survey was carried out in July 1999 in a 170-km2 forested area (Jura mountains, canton de Vaud, western Switzerland) inhabited by capercaillie and presence/absence of the species was assessed according to dropping presence/absence. The survey was based on 10-m-radius sample plots each in a 1-km2 forest patch (n = 76 with capercaillie droppings, n = 80 without). A first model included seven out of 27 measured habitat variables and a second model only four. The latter model best represents practical needs. It includes three variables which had a negative impact on capercaillie presence: tree and shrub covers and spruce, Picea excelsa, shrub cover, and one which had a positive effect: bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, cover, highlighting that capaercaillie selected open forest with high bilberry abundance. The model can be used to map potential capercaillie habitat distribution and to manage the habitat in favour of capercaillie (protection and adapted forestry practices) in the Swiss Jura mountains.
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