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Ural owl (Strix uralensis; Habichtskauz) from Romania. The species used to be rare in Germany and occurred in the Bavarian Forest close to the Chzech border. After its extinction around 1920 re-introduction programmes are currently under way establishing populations in the National Park Bavarian Forest

Black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) feeding on ants which are the main part of their die

The early bird catches the worm

You have already heard of the ConFoBi project and its set-up. And you probably heard birds are also a part of the biodiversity components investigated in the project. So, perhaps, you are wondering how it is possible to deal, within one hectare plots, with organisms that can fly, a lot and fast. Indeed, bird data collection is a fundamental chapter of every forest ecology book. Through point count surveys (recording all birds seen or heard in the plot centre for a fixed time), we are able to asses the relationship between birds and environmental structures at different spatial scales. That’s what B6 project does. And the trick stands here, my fellow readers, in the multiple spatial scales investigated. Playing around with space allows us to overcome the issue of high mobility of birds. In the end, we are trying to hold accountable the information from single plots, while being consistent with the greater picture present in the landscape.

Last spring, for example, we assessed the possible relationship between habitat trees and woodpeckers. Woodpeckers can be closely linked to mature forests, with large and old trees and lots of deadwood. Indeed, habitat trees can provide microhabitats (cavities, snags, epiphytes, etc.) which can constitute a relevant component of a bird’s habitat. The results are showing us some significant relationships, suggesting the importance of this kind of research for managing the forest ecosystem.

by Marco Basile (B6)