Small-scale habitat use of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix L.) and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta helvetica Thienemann) in the Austrian Alps

Anna Katharina Schweiger, Ursula Nopp-Mayr, Margit Zohmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


We investigated the small-scale habitat use of two grouse species, black grouse (Tetrao tetrix L.) and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta helvetica Thienemann) in a study area in the Austrian Central Alps in summer. To build habitat suitability models, we applied multiple logistic regression using presence-absence data from fieldwork as the response variable and a set of habitat characteristics as explanatory variables, respectively. To gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that drive habitat selection, we tested for two-way interaction terms before excluding any variables from the initial variable set. Four explanatory variables significantly contributed to the black grouse model: dwarf shrub cover, dwarf shrub height, patchiness and ant hills. The final model for rock ptarmigan contained three explanatory variables: dwarf shrub cover, rock cover and dwarf shrub height. Most notably, the interaction terms dwarf shrub cover × patchiness in the black grouse model and dwarf shrub cover × dwarf shrub height, rock cover × dwarf shrub height in the rock ptarmigan model point out trade-off mechanisms between food, cover and overview providing features. Thus, our models do not only identify the parameters that mainly drive habitat selection, but also deepen our understanding about the causal relationships between these factors. Therefore, the information gained in this study allows for a deduction of appropriate habitat management strategies and supports conservation efforts of local stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012



  • Austrian Alps
  • Black grouse
  • Habitat suitability model
  • Logistic regression
  • Management
  • Rock ptarmigan

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