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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Species co-occurrence and management intensity modulate habitat preferences of forest birds

Basile, Marco; Asbeck, Thomas; Pereira, Joao M. Cordeiro; Mikusinski, Grzegorz; Storch, Ilse


Background Species co-occurrences can have profound effects on the habitat use of species, and therefore habitat structure alone cannot fully explain observed abundances. To account for this aspect of community organization, we developed multi-species abundance models, incorporating the local effect of co-occurring and potentially associated species, alongside with environmental predictors, linked mainly to forest management intensity. We coupled it with a landscape-scale analysis to further examine the role of management intensity in modifying the habitat preferences in connection with the landscape context. Using empirical data from the Black Forest in southern Germany, we focused on the forest bird assemblage and in particular on the cavity-nesting and canopy-foraging guilds. We included in the analysis species that co-occur and for which evidence suggests association is likely. Results Our findings show that the local effect of species associations can mitigate the effects of management intensity on forest birds. We also found that bird species express wider habitat preferences in forests under higher management intensity, depending on the landscape context. Conclusions We suspect that species associations may facilitate the utilization of a broader range of environmental conditions under intensive forest management, which benefits some species over others. Networks of associations may be a relevant factor in the effectiveness of conservation-oriented forest management.


Canopy forager; Cavity nester; Landscape; Multi-species abundance models; Forest management intensity; Temperate forests

Published in

BMC Biology
2021, Volume: 19, number: 1, article number: 210Publisher: BMC

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)