Long-term Dynamics of the Community Structure of Larks (Alaudidae, Aves) in the North-Western Caspian Lowland


We studied the population structure and the number of larks in the steppe and semi-desert zones of the Caspian Lowland (within the territories of Alexandrov-Gay district of the Saratov region, Russian Federation, Dzhanybek and Bokey-Ordyn districts of the Western-Kazakhstan region, Republic of Kazakhstan) in six key areas in 2011 - 2018. From the data obtained, dynamic series of the density dynamics were calculated for each lark species (Tgr, growth rate), the group statistical indicators: R is the fluctuation magnitude of larks, u the coefficient of variation, etc., using Pearson’s χ2, the normal type of lark distribution was checked in their habitats. A correlation analysis between the density of larks and the vegetation index (NDVI) values was done. It has been established that four lark species (the steppe, white-winged, black and gray larks) show a tendency of decreasing their density in Alexandrov-Gay district. The maximum abundance decrease was observed for the White-winged Lark (Tgr = -28.4%, R2 = 0.785). In the Western Kazakhstan part of the habitat, the highest negative growth rate (Tgr = -99.9%) was recorded for the field lark, while the maximum positive one was for the white-winged lark (Tgr = +25.2). It has been revealed that the lark density dynamics and the structure of their nesting population are influenced by the vegetation level in the previous year, and the vegetation structure associated with the soil and ground conditions of this mosaic landscape and the anthropogenic press such as cattle pasture.


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