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Ecology of two Pittas (Pitta soror and Pitta nympha) in limestone forests of South China

Jiang, Aiwu; Yang, Gang; Pagani-Núñez, Emilio; Jiang, Demeng


Aiwu Jiang

Gang Yang

Demeng Jiang


The ecology and life history of bird species inhabiting limestone forests, which are under major conservation threats, is currently poorly known. To cover this gap of knowledge, in this study we report for the first time on several aspects of the breeding ecology of the Blue-rumped Pitta (Pitta soror) and the Fairy Pitta (P. nympha) inhabiting two typical limestone forests of south China. The mean density of Fairy Pittas in our study locations was 3.13 ± 2.82 and 1.05 ± 2.09 individuals/km2. The Blue-rumped Pitta was common in Nonggang and showed a mean density of 4.67 ± 2.44 individuals/km2, yet was absent in the other. We found nine nests between February 2009 and June 2015, including five of the Blue-rumped Pitta and four of the Fairy Pitta. Blue-rumped Pittas laid 4.8 ± 0.4 eggs with a mean fresh mass of 8.10 ± 0.40 g. Fairy Pittas had a clutch size of 5.2 ± 0.45 eggs with a mean fresh mass of 6.03 ± 0.22 g. Blue-rumped and Fairy Pitta parents fed their nestlings 4.0 ± 1.2 times and 3.9 ± 1.5 times per hour, respectively. Earthworms were the most common food item delivered to nestlings by Blue-rumped (93.6%) and Fairy Pitta (91.2%) parents. Blue-rumped Pittas bred successfully in 40% of nests (two of five), whilst in the case of Fairy Pittas nest success reached 75% (three of four). The two Pittas had larger clutch sizes than in southern populations of the same species and also than most other bird species inhabiting limestone forests. This would imply that Pittas show differences in life history traits within limestone ecosystems.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 6, 2017
Online Publication Date Aug 14, 2017
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Nov 2, 2022
Journal Journal of natural history
Print ISSN 0022-2933
Electronic ISSN 1464-5262
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Issue 31-32
Pages 1929-1941
Keywords Blue-rumped Pitta, breeding parameter, Fairy Pitta, karst, population density
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