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Context-dependent conservation of the cavity-nesting European Roller

Finch, Tom; Branston, Claire; Clewlow, Harriet; Dunning, Jamie; Franco, Aldina M.; Račinskis, Edmunds; Schwartz, Timothée; Butler, Simon J.

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Tom Finch

Claire Branston

Harriet Clewlow

Jamie Dunning

Aldina M. Franco

Edmunds Račinskis

Timothée Schwartz

Simon J. Butler


To maximise the effectiveness of conservation interventions, it is crucial to have an understanding of how intra‐specific variation determines the relative importance of potential limiting factors. For bird populations, limiting factors include nest‐site availability and foraging resources, with the former often addressed through the provision of artificial nest‐boxes. However, the effectiveness of artificial nest‐boxes depends on the relative importance of nest‐site versus foraging resource limitation. Here, we investigate factors driving variation in breeding density, nest‐box occupation and productivity in two contrasting study populations of the European Roller Coracias garrulus, an obligate cavity‐nesting insectivorous bird. Breeding density was more than 4 times higher at the French study site than at the Latvian site, and there was a positive relationship between breeding density (at the 1‐km2 scale) and nest‐site availability in France, but between breeding density and foraging resource availability in Latvia. Similarly, the probability of a nest‐box being occupied increased with predicted foraging resource availability in Latvia, but not in France. We detected no positive effect of foraging resource availability on productivity at either site, with most variation in breeding success driven by temporal effects; a seasonal decline in France, and strong inter‐annual fluctuations in Latvia. Our results indicate that the factors limiting local breeding density can vary across a species’ range, resulting in different conservation priorities. Nest‐box provisioning is a sufficient short‐term conservation solution at our French study site, where foraging resources are typically abundant, but in Latvia the restoration of foraging habitat may be more important.


Finch, T., Branston, C., Clewlow, H., Dunning, J., Franco, A. M., Račinskis, E., …Butler, S. J. (2019). Context-dependent conservation of the cavity-nesting European Roller. Ibis: International Journal of Avian Science, 161(3), 573-589.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 5, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 10, 2018
Publication Date Jul 31, 2019
Deposit Date Jul 23, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 20, 2018
Journal Ibis
Print ISSN 0019-1019
Electronic ISSN 1474-919X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 161
Issue 3
Pages 573-589


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (1.1 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version © 2018 The Authors. Ibis published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ornithologists' Union. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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