Species-specific habitat preferences of birds in vineyard: natural structures vs. ground vegetation
In my MSc, I focus on the birds in vineyard, an intensively managed agroecosystem. The xeric conditions in Valais (southern Switzerland) resulting from a continental climate created favorable conditions for several nationally threatened bird species like Cirl Bunting, Woodlark, Common Linnet, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck. Since 1950, the typical steppic habitat of the north slope of the Rhone valley has dramatically decreased, mainly due to the spread of vineyard cultivation, leading to a decline of numerous rare birds. In my MSc, I try to disentangle the relative importance of ground vegetation in the vineyard (inside the production surface) versus natural structures surrounding the vineyard (hedges, groves) on bird density, abundance and diversity. I will additionally link those caracteristics to a conservation index of the birds.