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Habitat selection by nocturnal passerine migrants en route: mechanisms and results

Chernetsov, Nikita
Journal für Ornithologie 2006 v.147 no.2 pp. 185-191
Passeriformes, acoustics, anatomy and morphology, breeding, carrying capacity, decision making, foraging, habitats, home range, migratory behavior, nocturnal activity, predator-prey relationships, predators
Habitat use and habitat selection are essential for successful stopovers. Passerine migrants use habitats in a clearly non-random manner, even if many species utilise a broader range of habitats during passage than during breeding or wintering. Habitat selection proceeds as a sequence of events: landfall; search/settling, including redistribution across habitats if necessary; and habitat exploitation, with all stages probably condition-dependent. This review is aimed at studying this sequence and also the factors which govern decision-making in nocturnal passerine migrants at all levels. In most cases, habitats are (pre)selected by migrants already at landfall using both visual and acoustic cues. After landfall, migrants start to perform direct sampling of habitats during which they may move constantly and perform fine-tuning of their habitat choice. Some species subsequently occupy a small home range in a particular (micro)habitats, whereas others continue to move broadly during the whole stopover period. An interaction of several factors shapes the use of habitats after landing, among which are migrants' innate preferences and functional morphology, foraging strategies and food resource distribution, habitat carrying capacity and exposure to predators. The large-scale spatial context probably also plays a role which might be currently underestimated.