Do ducks and songbirds initiate more nests when the probability of survival is greater?

Canadian Field-Naturalist
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Nesting chronology in grassland birds can vary by species, locality, and year. The date a nest is initiated can influence the subsequent probability of its survival in some grassland bird species. Because predation is the most significant cause of nest loss in grassland birds, we examined the relation between timing of nesting and nest survival. Periods of high nest survival that correspond with the peak of nesting activity might reflect long-term adaptations to specific predation pressures commonly recurring during certain periods of the nesting cycle. We evaluated this theory by comparing timing of nesting with date-specific nest survival rates for several duck and passerine species breeding in north-central North Dakota during 1998–2003. Nest survival decreased seasonally with date for five of the seven species we studied. We found little evidence to support consistent relations between timing of nesting, the number of nest initiations, and nest survival for any species we studied, suggesting that factors other than nest predation may better explain nesting chronology for these species. The apparent mismatch between date-specific patterns of nest survival and nest initiation underscores uncertainty about the process of avian nest site selection driven mainly by predation. Although timing of nesting differed among species, the general nesting period was fairly predictable across all years of study, suggesting the potential for research activities or management actions to be timed to take advantage of known periods when nests are active (or inactive). However, our results do not support the notion that biologists can take advantage of periods when many nests are active and survival is also high.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Do ducks and songbirds initiate more nests when the probability of survival is greater?
Series title Canadian Field-Naturalist
DOI 10.22621/cfn.v129i4.1754
Volume 129
Issue 4
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Canadian Field-Naturalist
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 8 p.
First page 323
Last page 330
Country United States
State North Dakota
County Bottineau County
Other Geospatial J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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