Diet of sympatric Barn Owls Tyto alba and Short-eared Owls Asio flammeus in an agricultural landscape in south-east Spain




pellets, sympatry, farming lands, raptor, niche overlap, pest control


The diets of the Barn Owl Tyto alba and the Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus have been extensively studied worldwide over the past few years, especially on the Iberian Peninsula. Nevertheless, very few studies have examined the diets and the trophic niche overlap in areas where these two raptor species occur in sympatry. As such, in this study we compared the diets of the Barn Owl and the Short-eared Owl inhabiting agricultural landscapes of the Vega de Granada, south-east Spain, based on pellet analysis. The diets were very similar, as both owls preyed mainly on small mammals, the Algerian Mouse Mus spretus being the prey most commonly found in pellets from both species. Although the diet of the Barn Owl was more diverse than that of the Short-eared Owl, the food niche overlap was very high, thus indicating a low interspecific trophic segregation. Despite the similarities between both diets, the frequency of the Mediterranean Pine Vole Microtus duodecimcostatus was much higher in pellets from the Barn Owl, thus suggesting that the Barn Owl may exert pest control in years when the Mediterranean Pine Vole occurs in high numbers.


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Author Biographies

Pablo Jiménez-Nájar, University of Granada

Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain. Master Student.

Jorge Garrido-Bautista, University of Granada

Departmento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain. PhD Student.

Rubén Tarifa, University of Jaén, University of Cádiz

Departamento Biología Animal, Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Jaén, 23071 Jaén, Spain.

Departamento de Biología, IVAGRO, Universidad de Cádiz, Campus Río San Pedro, E-11510, Puerto Real, Cádiz, Spain.

PhD Student.

José Manuel Rivas

Sierra Nevada Natural S. L., Centro de Visitantes El Dornajo, 18160 Güejar Sierra, Granada, Spain. Naturalist and owner of a environmental management company.

Gregorio Moreno-Rueda, University of Granada

Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain. PhD, Professor.


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How to Cite

Jiménez-Nájar, P., Garrido-Bautista, J., Tarifa, R., Rivas, J. M., & Moreno-Rueda, G. (2021). Diet of sympatric Barn Owls Tyto alba and Short-eared Owls Asio flammeus in an agricultural landscape in south-east Spain. Ornis Svecica, 31, 139–150.



Research Papers