W Allaerts

The present commentary elaborates on the question whether interspecies and niche interactions and long-distance interactions between hibernating and breeding habitats are important for maintaining biodiversity in a changing world. The study focusses on the abundance trends of five bird species that are typical for heathland in North- Western Europe. The sympatric species Saxicola rubetra and Saxicola torquata, the Whinchat and the Stonechat respectively, receive special interest because of their very divergent conservation status and habitat preferences. An important result is that conservation practices (especially in natural reserves) should take more notice of the species-specific niche requirements and adopt the timing and precautionary requirements for biodiversity protection instead of promoting a few species at the cost of many others. In this study also an old hypothesis (formulated for tropical forest birds) is re-examined with respect the influences of seasonal migration and flexible versus stereotypical habitat selection on the long-term species survival potential, now applied to heath bird species.


  1. Introduction: about an old question of tropical forest birds and seasonal migration
  2. Recent trends in Dutch bird populations: the European Nightjar and other heath birds
  3. Comparison with European trends for two sympatric species: the Whinchat and Stonechat
  4. Impact of agriculture and grassland management in the Netherlands
  5. Ecological networks of flowering plants, insects and birds
  6. Conclusions and recommendations

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