Nest-site habitat selection by Lesser Rheas (Rhea pennata pennata) in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina

Abstract

Selection of nest-site habitat by a population of wild Lesser Rheas (Rhea pennata pennata) was studied in the northwestern Patagonia steppe, Argentina, during two reproductive seasons (2004/2005 and 2005/2006). Nest spatial distribution was compared with randomly selected points in the study area. Contrary to observations in other ratite species, nest distribution showed an aggregate pattern associated with “mallín” (meadow) areas, which are habitats of higher productivity in the Patagonia steppe. Moreover, similar to observations made on the Greater Rhea (Rhea americana), vegetation cover was higher in nest sites than in randomly selected sites, probably because higher vegetation provides concealment from predators and protection from the strong westerly winds that frequent in this region. Our results reinforce the importance of “mallín” areas for the reproduction and conservation of this threatened ratite species.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to EEA INTA Bariloche for allowing us to conduct our study in the area. N. Roldán, J. Von Thüngen, D. Sarasqueta and the personnel at Pilcaniyeu collaborated during the field work. The GIS map of the study area was provided by the Laboratorio de Teledetección y SIG of EEA INTA Bariloche. J. Brasca helped us with the English version of the manuscript and I. Rehm translated the abstract into German. Financial support was provided by the Secretaría de Ciencia y Técnica of the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). F.R.B. is a fellow and M.B.M. and J.L.N. are researchers of CONICET.

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Correspondence to Fernando R. Barri.

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Communicated by J. Fjeldså.

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Barri, F.R., Martella, M.B. & Navarro, J.L. Nest-site habitat selection by Lesser Rheas (Rhea pennata pennata) in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. J Ornithol 150, 511–514 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-009-0374-6

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Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Habitat selection
  • Nest distribution
  • Patagonia steppe
  • Rhea pennata pennata