Winter bird communities in the northern Negev: Species dispersal patterns, habitat use and implications for habitat conservation

Eyal Shochat, Ido Tsurim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Bird habitat conservation may require different management strategies for different seasonal bird assemblages. We studied habitat use by winter birds in forest and scrubland habitat patches in the northern Negev, Israel. Our goal was to assess whether differences in responses to landscape and habitat structure between breeding and non-breeding seasons require changes in future conservation plans that have been suggested for the Negev breeding bird community. We evaluated habitat and area effects on bird abundance and distribution and tested whether species habitat use during winter involves niche shifts. Compared with breeding birds, a larger proportion of winter bird species occupied both scrubland and forest. As in summer, forest bird species responded to habitat structure, whereas scrubland species were associated with both habitat structure and area. Resident birds disperse into habitats in which they were not present during summer. Consequently, for several species, the correlation between bird densities and environmental factors showed a better fit at the landscape rather than at the habitat scale. In addition, rather than niche shift, birds actually extended their niche breadth. Nest site selection may constrain bird distribution into a realized niche, smaller than their fundamental niche. Despite the scale differences in habitat use, the similar species diversity patterns between seasons suggest that both winter and summer birds would benefit from conservation of scrub patches larger than 50 ha, and enrichment of foliage layers within the planted forests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1590
Number of pages20
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2004


  • Afforestation
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Landscape
  • Niche
  • Scale
  • Species diversity


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