Landscape forest cover and edge effects on songbird nest predation vary by nest predator
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Landscape Ecology. 27: 659-669.
Rates of nest predation for birds vary between and within species across multiple spatial scales, but we have a poor understanding of which predators drive such patterns. We video-monitored nests and identified predators at 120 nests of the Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens) and the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) at eight study sites in Missouri and Illinois, USA, during 2007-2010. We used an information-theoretic approach to evaluate hypotheses concerning factors affecting predator-specific and overall rates of predation at landscape, edge, and nest-site scales. We found support for effects of landscape forest cover and distance to habitat edge. Predation by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) increased, and predation by rodents decreased as landscape forest cover decreased. Predation by raptors, rodents, and snakes increased as the distance to forest edges decreased, but the effect was modest and conditional upon the top-ranked model. Despite the predator-specific patterns we detected, there was no support for these effects on overall rates of predation. The interactions between breeding birds, nest predators, and the landscapes in which they reside are scale-dependent and context-specific, and may be resistant to broad conceptual management recommendations.
Cox, W. Andrew; Thompson, Frank R. III; Faaborg, John. 2012. Landscape forest cover and edge effects on songbird nest predation vary by nest predator. Landscape Ecology. 27: 659-669. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-012-9711-x.