We have pointed out 272 plant and 217 animal, altogether 489 taxa in the diet of Great Bustard on the basis of data received from 9 (10) countries for Otis tarda tarda (Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, former Soviet Union). Out of 272 plant taxa, 40 were classified as cultivated plants, 232 wild plants and weeds. From the latter, 43 taxa were monocotyledons and 189 were dicotyledons. Animal food is shared among Annelida (n = 3), Arthropoda (189) Mollusca (2) and Vertebrata (23) phyla. Arthropods are mostly represented with Insecta (181), Arachnoidea (3), Chilopoda (2), Diplopoda (2) and Crustacea (mostly Isopoda) (1) classes. The component of the diet is possibly not related to selection but to the change of the abundance and availability of food and the ever present demand for animal food needed for the organism. Owing to the high number of taxa known as food, Great Bustard is definitely a generalist species. Due to the wide spectrum of animal taxa and because of the ability to subsidize the inefficient quality of food with quantity, Great Bustards can be regarded as a species with positive adaptation ability. It can be explained with a wide plant and animal food spectrum that Great Bustards even in intensive agricultural habitats can find food with indispensable quantity and quality.
At the turn of the 19-20th centuries, the Great Bustard population of the Kisalföld (Little Hungarian Plain) numbered 4000 specimens. By 1990, only about 100 individuals remained in the Hungarian and Austrian territories. Of the many possible negative factors of current times, the greatest pressure on the Great Bustard population stems from unfavorable crop structures, extensive use of intensive agricultural technologies and predation. During the past decades, we have seen a shift in nesting place locations from natural-like habitats to agrar-type habitats. This change may be explained by the more favorable structure and microclimate of this latter habitat type paralleled with greater food source availability. In order to escape this ecological trap, we have to engage in active conflict resolution that provides protection the region's Bustard population.
For this very reason, the MOSON Project was founded in 1992 at the northern part of the Mosoni-Plain in the territory of Lajta-Hanság Co. Later, several Austrian regions joined the project. On these territories, out of the above mentioned 100 specimens, only 20 birds lived at the time. As the result of active habitat management of Great Bustards and coexisting small game species (mostly due to the influence of set-aside areas) as well as effective predator control (especially the Red Fox) resulted in an increase of the Great Bustard population. By the end of the 1990's, the population grew to 120-130 individuals which number was limited by the carrying capacity of this territory. Consequently, the species continued to reoccupy new regions in the Hungarian and Austrian territories. These days, the number of Great Bustards in these protected regions is estimated to be 400 individuals.
In 1998, the Mosoni-plain was given IBA (HU-001) status, and in 2004, the region was protected under the Natura 2000 EU nature conservation network.
Tamás Márton Németh, Petra Kelemen, Ágnes Csiszár, Gyula Kovács, Sándor Faragó and Dániel Winkler
This study investigated the habitat selection of the Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) during the breeding season of 2014 in an intensively managed agricultural environment (LAJTA Project, North-West Hungary). In order to assess the habitat preferences of the Common Quail, habitat composition around occupied plots were compared with unoccupied control plots. To characterize the habitat, a total of 11 variables related to vegetation structure and diversity, food availability and landscape were quantified. Multivariate methods (PCA and GLMs) were used to distinguish the main factors influencing habitat selection and to model the presence of the Common Quail. Based on our results, in the LAJTA Project, high probability of Common Quail presence can be predicted in plots with higher herbaceous cover and more abundant arthropod communities. The network of ecotone habitats, particularly the proximity to woody habitats, also appeared to have significant importance during the breeding season.