Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.28(2). (2020) p.24-36.

Analysis of landscape structure, habitat selection and urbanisation in edge populations of Scops Owls Otus scops in Central Europe
Ákos Klein, István Szentirmai, Zsófia Dobos & Miklós Laczi

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The habitat selection of Scops Owl Otus scops has not been studied in Hungary so far. The population in the Carpathian Basin can be considered as a range edge population. Yet, studying and conserving breeding population at the edge of the species’ range is important for the evolutionary potential of the species. In the present study, we examined Scops Owl populations situated on both sides of the Hungarian-Slovenian border. Although breeding density is significantly higher in Slovenia than in Hungary, we found no difference in the ecological diversity of the Goričko Nature Park (GNP), Slovenia and Vas County, Hungary. We found that both the proportion and total edge length of dry grasslands and intensively managed mesic grasslands were lower in Hungary. Similarly, market gardens were present in a larger proportion in GNP. These landscape features all indicate that the complex cultivation is still pronounced in GNP, favouring the Sops Owl as less intensive cultivation modes, like rural market gardens and grasslands play a key role in its habitat selection. Points with Scops Owl observations appeared to be closer to settlements than randomly generated points. They also were observed farther from primary roads than from secondary roads. This is in accordance with other studies revealing that these nocturnal birds avoid noisy roads. We briefly discuss why conserving range edge populations is important, and how time and effort optimised species conservation measures should accompany landscape protection at the political level.