The Potential Distribution of the Red Kite in Germany

Journal Article

Title: The Potential Distribution of the Red Kite in Germany
Publication Date:
May 12, 2013
Journal: Journal of Ornithology
Volume: 154
Issue: 4
Pages: 911-921
Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg

Document Access

Website: External Link


Heuck, C.; Brandl, R.; Albrecht, J.; Gottschalk, T. (2013). The Potential Distribution of the Red Kite in Germany. Journal of Ornithology, 154(4), 911-921.

Central Europe has the responsibility to protect the Red Kite Milvus milvus as it holds the majority (>50 % of all breeding pairs) of the global population. This entails the need for comprehensive knowledge of the birds’ ecology and distribution. Currently, only little is known about the factors limiting both the global occurrence of the Red Kite and its distribution on regional scales. In this study we analysed the effect of land use on the breeding distribution of Red Kites throughout Germany, the species’ core distribution area, using a distribution model. For the first time, an extensive data set was used for modelling comprising a sample size of 2,625 Red Kite breeding sites, high-resolution land-use data (10 m × 10 m) and climatic as well as topographic variables. The model revealed a strong relationship between land-use patterns and the Red Kite’s distribution. Furthermore, a comparison of the predicted habitat suitability map with the actual distribution of Red Kites showed that not all suitable habitats were occupied by the species and thus, the species’ distribution seems not to be in equilibrium with its environment. The differences between actual and predicted distribution may stem from present or former high mortality rates which are not compensated for by current reproduction rates. Additionally, low juvenile dispersal of Red Kites reduces recolonisation of unoccupied patches.

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