Landscape configuration can influence the distribution of species across multiple spatial scales. The primary factors related to this process are connectivity, the size and position of habitat patches, and edge effects. These factors together determine the overall fragmentation of a landscape, which in turn influences species occurrence. Although some species show a negative response to fragmentation, others benefit from it. Potential effects may act over multiple spatial scales, possibly with contrasting effects on species occurrence. We chose the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco), a ubiquitous and generalist species, to study the influence of fragmentation on species occurrence and to identify relevant landscape metrics, using multi-scale hierarchical modelling. Between 2016 and 2018, we recorded Tawny Owls on 64 sampling sites located in a forested landscape. We used a space-for-time substitution in the framework of occupancy modelling to assess Tawny Owl responses to landscape fragmentation. We found that the Tawny Owl is widespread in the study area. Its distribution across the landscape (larger spatial scale) was related to a heterogeneous configuration of forest patches, while high connectivity of coniferous forest influenced its occurrence at a smaller spatial scale (sites). Overall, the Tawny Owl prefers landscapes with well-connected forest patches and an uneven patch distribution in the surrounding area.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.