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Abstract

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) bred in 15 UTM squares (75%, n = 20) of the Kazanlak Valley (central south Bulgaria) at 33 localities (55% confirmed, 12% probable and 33% possible breeding). Its distribution in the Valley was found to be five times larger and its population size ten times greater during our study period than previously thought. Evidence of one to five breeding localities (mean 2.2±1.3) was detected in each occupied UTM square. A breeding density of 4.1 bp/100 km2 was close to the average in Central Europe. Nests inside or on metal frames and ducts were typical in the region and gave possibility for its successful breeding in most of the habitable buildings. The Barn Owls were breeding mainly in poorly maintained and abandoned buildings whose supply has not decreased markedly since the agricultural restoration started in Bulgaria after it joined the European Union and intensive industrial agriculture has resumed with EU support. Currently, it appears that Barn Owl is not threatened by a ‘housing shortageʼ over the next decade.

Abstract

Because of the worldwide distribution of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and the easily way to find its pellets, it is often used to diet studies. To investigate the eco-geographical impact of mountainous areas on its diet, we conducted studies in the Jura, Alpes, Central and Pyrénées mountains and we also did pellet analysis from 8 sites in the Jura mountains. Analysis of the tooth and skull content of pellets allowed us to draw up two types of change in the diet of Tyto alba in correlation with mountain elevation. The first one concerns the Jura, Alpes and Central mountains, where the diversity of the diet declines with the increase in elevation. The second one concerns the Pyrénées mountains, where there is no change in the diversity of the diet, perhaps because of the higher diversity of small mammals caused by mediterranean influence. Thus, it seems that elevation cau ses a decrease in diet diversity of Tyto alba in continental mountains (Jura, Alpes and Central mountains) probably because of more homogeneous landscapes dedicated to grass production. However, in Mediterranean mountains (Pyrénées), a more diversified small mammal guild provides a constant level of diet diversity.

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