Ornis Hungarica. vol.26(1). (2018) p.89-94.
Habitat selection of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in Körös-Maros National Park
We investigated relationships among bustard presence data as response as well as properties of habitat patches such as shape, size, type of land use and landscape connectivity in 2015, employing bustard occurrence data in Körös-Maros National Park (KMNP hereafter). Additionally, we aimed to present a geometrical approach of habitat choice in animals, focusing on geometric properties rather than vegetation structure. Here we applied landscape metrics approach, providing landscape classification by analysing spatial patterns in potentially important landscape objects, disregarding linear constructions. Our findings show insignificant differences between shape metrics of selected and non-selected habitat patches, in line with previous studies concluding that bustards choose habitats based on habitat type classes rather than on geometric properties. Further, our results indicate that the original habitats of the study species, adapted to extensive, open steppes, became strongly fragmented, resulting in the absence of large contiguous areas. Within the study area, landscape connectivity values represent optimal habitat conditions, probably as a result of highly patchy structure of the landscape and relatively small nearest neighbour distances of habitat patches. Thus, our findings also indicate that Great Bustards adapted to modified landscape structures. Our landscape analytical approach provides a methodological framework which can be applied on habitat selection tactics in a number of species of key conservation importance.