ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 38–43. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2011.
Original Russian Text © S.E. Cherenkov, 2011, published in Ekologiya, 2011, No. 1, pp. 43–48.
Ranking species habitats according to their quality
is necessary for solving many practical and theoretical
ecological problems: modeling the spatial distribution
of species, determining the potential carrying capacity
of the environment, developing species conservation
In ecological studies, the quality of bird habitats is
regarded as a parameter directly proportional to spe
cies abundance or density; the higher these parame
ters, the higher the habitat quality. This approach may
be considered satisfactory if abundance is estimated
simultaneously all over the study area, with the popu
lation remaining relatively stable in space, or if the
estimation is based on longterm monitoring of popu
lation density. If data on the habitat distribution of a
species are collected successively, over several nesting
seasons, with species abundance varying severalfold,
significant aberrations can be expected, since nesting
density is accounted for by a number of independent
parameters and conditions: breeding success, nest dis
persion, conditions of migration, wintering, etc.
This study deals with an alternative approach to the
problem of habitat ranking, which is based on analysis
of the spatial structure of populations. Its distinctive
feature is that it requires no additional expenditures
for laborintensive fieldwork and allows ranking on the
basis of available data of previous census mapping of
nesting territories. On the other hand, this approach
can also be used by itself.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The material used in this study, i.e., the measured
minimum distances between singing male
chaffinches, was obtained as a “free supplement” to
the results of census mapping of nesting territories.
According to this method (Tomialojc, 1980; Pried
nieks et al., 1986), the person who takes the census
uses a special procedure to records all simultaneously
singing males in a plot or on a transect. (These are the
records most important for determining the nesting
density of a species.)
Bird mapping was carried out along four perma
nent transects established in different biotopes and
different parts of the chaffinch range:
(1) Environs of Malinki Biological Station of the
Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian
Academy of Sciences (NaroFominsk district, Mos
cow Region) (below, referred to as Malinki), in mature
and maturing spruce–smallleaved forests (1991,
1992, 1994, and1998).
(2) Environs of the village Ozereika, Novorossiysk
district, Krasnodar Region (below, Ozereika), in
maturing and mature broadleaved hornbeam–beach
forests (2000 and 2001).
(3) PriokskoTerrasnyi Biosphere Nature Reserve,
Serpukhov district, Moscow Region (below, PTR), in
maturing and mature pine forests (2002 and 2003).
(4) Central Forest Biosphere Reserve, Nelidovo
district, Tver Region (below, CFR), in mature and
maturing spruce–smallleaved forests (2006).
Frequency Distribution of Minimum Distances between Singing
Males in Different Chaffinch (
Populations As an Indicator of Habitat Quality
S. E. Cherenkov
Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Leninskii pr. 33, Moscow, 119071 Russia
Received November 18, 2008
—The results of census mapping over nine nesting seasons have been used to calculate frequency dis
tributions of minimum distances between male singing chaffinches. Comparison of these distributions shows
consistent, high, and significant similarity of spatial structures within each population, despite considerable
fluctuations in bird density (from 204 to 118 territories per hectare) and basic differences between spatial
structures of different populations (two significantly different classes are distinguished). An approach to esti
mation of habitat quality by assessing the spatial structure of populations is proposed.
: distances between singing males, habitat quality estimation, chaffinch (