Ecology and conservation biology of birds

Ornithological research conducted at the department relates to a variety of groups and species of birds, but all are connected by issues concerning the influence of changes in the environment on the distribution and ecology of birds and interspecific relations. All of the research topics described below focus on montane and submontane populations of birds from the Western Carpathians.

The research carried out so far concerns the following issues:

- the population genetics and ecology of two sibling woodpeckers, the great spotted woodpecker and the Syrian woodpecker, in urban environments;

- the habitat preferences of two rare woodpeckers, the white-backed woodpecker and the three-toed woodpecker, in relation to the impact of forest management on the ecology of these stenotopic and indicator species;

- the influence of flood and anthropogenic alternations on breeding bird assemblages and the utility of some selected species as indicators of naturalness and biodiversity;

- the habitat and spatial segregation of two species of owls, the Ural owl and the tawny owl, in fragmented forests;

- the factors that determine the occurrence of the wood-specialist hazel grouse in fragmented forests;

- the influence of orchard management on the biodiversity of birds;

- the spatial competition of flocks of two fish-eaters, the cormorant and the goosander, during migration and wintering;

- the biodiversity of birds in the Beskid Wyspowy mountain range, the Zachodniobeskidzkie foothills, and the Raba tributary. The results and conclusions from these studies have allowed for a better understanding of the ecological and ethological factors which determine the occurrence of certain birds, especially stenotopic, rare, threatened, and indicator species. The effects of these studies have also been implemented in the practical planning of bird conservation and the monitoring of certain populations of species through the designation of protected areas and co-authorship of guidelines for monitoring and ecological research.

Research was funded by the:

Own research (Ł. Kajtoch, T. Figarski).

Research topic "Ecology, conservation biology and population genetics of birds" funded from statutory research of ISEA PAS; (PI: dr hab. Łukasz Kajtoch; investigators from ISEA PAS: Tomasz Figarski); 2013-2015.

Ministry of Higher Education and Science; no 9007/IP1/2014/72; "Spatial and habitat segregation of the Ural and Tawny owls in fragmented forest landscape" (PI: dr hab. Łukasz Kajtoch, investigators from ISEA PAS: Tomasz Figarski); 2014-2016.


Kajtoch Ł., Wilk T., Bobrek R., Matysek M. 2015. The importance of forests along submontane stream valleys for bird conservation: The Carpathian example. Bird Conservation International. doi:10.1017/S0959270915000179.

Kajtoch Ł., Żmihorski M., Wieczorek P. 2015. Habitat displacement effect between two competing owl species in fragmented forests. Population Ecology.57: 517-527.

Figarski T., Kajtoch Ł. 2015. Alterations of riverine ecosystems adversely affect bird assemblages. Hydrobiologia 744: 287-296.

Michalczuk J., McDevitt A., Mazgajski T.D., Figarski T., Ilieva M., Bujoczek M., Malczyk P., Kajtoch Ł. 2014. Tests of multiple molecular markers for the identification of Great Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers and their hybrids. Journal of Ornithology 3: 591-600.

Kajtoch Ł.. Żmihorski M., Piestrzyńska-Kajtoch A. 2014. The Goosander as potential indicator of naturalness and biodiversity in submontane river valleys of northern Carpathians. Ecological Indicators 45: 83-92.

Kajtoch Ł., Bobrek R. 2014. Extension of Goosander Mergus merganser distribution into the Carpathian Mountain range. Wildfowl 64:91-101.

Kajtoch Ł., Figarski T. 2013. Short-term revival of riverine bird assemblages after severe flood. Bird Study 60: 327-334.

Kajtoch Ł., Żmihorski M., Bonczar Z. 2012. Hazel Grouse occurrence in fragmented forests: habitat quantity and configuration is more important than quality. European Journal of Forest Research 131: 1783–1795.

McDevitt A.D., Kajtoch Ł., Mazgajski T.D., Carden F.R., Coscia I., Osthoff C., Coombes R.ZH., Wilson F. 2011. The origins of great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) colonizing Ireland revealed by mitochondrial DNA. Bird Study 58: 361–364.

Bylicka M., Kajtoch Ł., Figarski T. 2010. Habitat and landscape characteristics affecting the Ural Owl Strix uralensis occurrence in agro-forestry mosaic. Acta Ornithologica 45: 33-42.