ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2008, Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 353–358. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2008.
Original Russian Text © M.V. Matantseva, S.A. Simonov, 2008, published in Ekologiya, 2008, No. 5, pp. 373–378.
A characteristic trend in current transformation of
habitats is an increase in patchiness due to disruption of
natural biotopes, on the one hand, and development of
new biotopes potentially suitable for animal life, on the
other hand. Since this transformation occurs rapidly,
behavioral adaptations should play a special role in ani-
mal adjustment to transformed biotope conditions.
In our opinion, they can provide for the most prompt
adaptive response to environmental changes at the pop-
This study is devoted to various aspects of the
warblers in patchy habitats, with
emphasis on their biotope preferences, community
structure, and speciﬁc features of territorial and nesting
STUDY REGION, OBJECTS, AND METHODS
The birds were studied on the Courland Spit on the
Baltic Sea in the spring–summer seasons (May–
August) of 2003–2005. Most observations were made
at the Rybachii Biological Station of the Zoological
Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences) and neighbor-
ing areas with a total size of about 7 ha. The main
observation plot represented a patchwork of compart-
ments representing different types of biotopes: (1) wil-
low forest, (2) dry-mesic deciduous forest (up to grade
3 on Kurlavicius’ (1988) site moisture scale), (3) mesic
(grades 4–5) deciduous forest with prevalence of wil-
sp.), (4) reed (
(5) mesic meadows, (6) glades overgrown with bram-
), and (7) cultivated stands. Com-
partments of each type differed in the composition and
structure of vegetation and microclimatic conditions.
Observations were also made in large mixed forests in
the vicinity of the station.
The basic method was to monitor daily the birds
banded with standard aluminum rings and individual
combinations of color plastic rings. Studies were
planned so that observations could continue throughout
the daylight period. Birds were trapped with mist nets
set in ﬂyways to nests, as well as with stationary nets
installed at the Rybachii station for the entire season.
Territoriality was studied by the point mapping method
(Odum and Kuenzler, 1955). All points of occurrence
of warblers and their movements were noted on maps
of study sites. In each location of a singing male, we
estimated song activity and, if possible, recorded the
height at which the male was perched. The maps were
used to delimit individual home ranges and trace
changes in their size and spatial position during the sea-
son. The results were compared with data on the behav-
ior of warblers in more homogeneous habitats. Map
processing was performed with the programs Arc View
GIS 3.2, Home Range (Ackerman et al., 1990), Adobe
Photoshop CS 8.0, and Corel Draw 11.
All nests found in the study area were mapped and
described. The same concerns roosts built by warblers,
which are regarded either as unﬁnished nests that males
began to build prior to pair formation (Ptushenko and
Inozemtsev, 1968; Zatsepina, 1978; Kurganova, 1984,
1986) or as speciﬁc sites for courtship displays (Nad-
tochii and Krapivnyi, 1986). The data on nests included
standard measurements (including nest diameter, nest
cup diameter, nest cup depth, and total nest height), nest
construction materials, speciﬁc constructive features,
substrate, and nest site elevation. Special attention was
paid to the description of nesting microstations and the
Ecological and Ethological Characteristics of
Colonies in Patchy Habitats on the Courland Spit, Baltic Sea
M. V. Matantseva and S. A. Simonov
Institute of Biology, Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Pushkinskaya 11, Petrozavodsk, 185610 Russia;
Received May 25, 2007
—Territorial and nesting behavior of
warblers in a patchy environment has been studied. The
results show that shortage of nesting sites and consequent high population density result in acute social strain.
Under such conditions, changes are observed in species-speciﬁc forms of this behavior, which provide for the
maximum possible realization of individual reproductive potential.
warblers, ecology, habitat patchiness, territorial behavior, nesting behavior.