Nesting of European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster)in Central Europe depends on the soil characteristicsof nest sites

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) Science Article 4


The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is the rst known species of theorder Coraciiformes and the second bird species whose distribution dependson the granulometrical characteristics of soils constituting suitable banks forbreeding. The mean particle size of soil samples from bee-eater nest placeswas 42.76  13.58 m (max 66.82 m, min 20.10 m). Mean particle sizedi
ered signi cantly between samples from bee-eater and sand martin nestplaces, and unoccupied cli
s respectively. In total 12 di
erent particle sizeswere analysed. There were no bee-eater holes in soils containing particlesover 10,000 m. The number of all psephitic particles (above 2,346 m) wasmore than 15 times lower in samples from bee-eater colonies than in thosefrom sand martin holes. However, samples from bee-eater colonies contained20 times more soil grains between 28.0 and 9.2 m. These highly signi cantdi
erences may explain why these two species do not usually breed in mixedcolonies.

Petr Heneberg & Karel Simecek, Biologia, Bratislava, 59/2: 205-211, 2004

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