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Man-dependence of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) in the Faroe Islands: habitat patch characteristics as determinants of presence and numbers

  • Sven-Axel Bengtson
  • Kirstin Eliassen
  • Laura Mary Jacobsen
  • Eydfinn Magnussen
  • Sven-Axel Bengtsson
  • P. Buckland
  • P. H. Enckell
  • A. M. Fosaa
Publiceringsår: 2010
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 227-243
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Dorete - her book, Annales Societatis Scientiarum Færoensis, Suppl. 52
Dokumenttyp: Del av eller Kapitel i bok
Förlag: Faroe University Press


The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) began to colonize the

Faroe Islands in the mid-1940s and occurs in most built-up areas.

Breeding is confined to the discrete human habitations (settlements)

that form a pattern of patches (”habitat-islands”). In 2002

all settlements were surveyed and the number of pairs of sparrows

(total number ca. 2,700 pairs) and amount of vegetation (”green

space”) were estimated. The settlements ranged in size from 0.01

km2 (a single farmstead) to 8.72 km2 (the capital) and 68% of

them (n=118) were occupied by sparrows. Patch occupancy was

positively correlated with both area and amount of vegetation

(p < 0.001) but not quite with the degree of isolation (p = 0.15).

The latter was crudely scored as a function of distance to nearest

settlement with > 10 pairs (a possible source area) and topography

(mainly mountains and open sea). The patch variables area, human

population, number of houses and houses were strongly intercorrelated.

Abundance (number of pairs) of sparrows was positively

correlated with the number of houses (r = 0.84, p < 0.001). In all

but one of the settlements with < 10 houses sparrows were absent,

and also in many of those with 10-60 houses where the scatter swas

wide (no significant correlation p = 0.25). All but one of the settlements

with > 60 houses supported sparrows and the correlation

with abundance was highly significant (p < 0.001). The absence

of sparrows in small settlements is discussed in terms of risks of

associated with small populations such as stochastic extinctions,

Allee effects, competition, and predation (incl. persecution by

Man). Various anthropogenic effects on abundance of sparrows

are discussed; e.g. age, type and conditions of buildings and the

presence of gardens, cultivations, and plantations all contributing

to shelter and food resources. The Faroese House Sparrow as a

metapopulation is briefly discussed.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Zoology
  • House sparrow
  • Passer domesticus
  • Faroe Islands



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