Management actions intended to protect or improve habitat for ducks may benefit grassland-nesting passerines, but scant information is available to explore this assumption. During 1998–2003, we examined nest survival of ducks and songbirds to determine whether effects of prescribed fire and other habitat features (e.g., shrub cover and distance to habitat edges) were similar for ducks and passerines breeding in North Dakota. We used the logistic-exposure method to estimate survival of duck and songbird nests (n = 3,171). We used an information-theoretic approach to identify factors that most influenced nest survival. Patterns of nest survival were markedly different between taxonomic groups. For ducks, nest survival was greater during the first postfire nesting season (daily survival rate [DSR] = 0.957, 85% CI = 0.951–0.963), relative to later postfire nesting seasons (DSR = 0.946, 85% CI = 0.942–0.950). Furthermore duck nest survival and nest densities were inversely related. Duck nest survival also was greater as shrub cover decreased and as distance from cropland and wetland edges increased. Passerines had lower nest survival during the first postfire nesting season (DSR = 0.934, 85% CI = 0.924–0.944), when densities also were low compared to subsequent postfire nesting seasons (DSR = 0.947, 85% CI = 0.944–0.950). Parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) reduced passerine nest survival and this effect was more pronounced during the first postfire nesting season compared to subsequent nesting seasons. Passerine nest survival was greater as shrub cover decreased and perhaps for more concealed nests. Duck and songbird nest survival rates were not correlated during this study and for associated studies that examined additional variables using the same dataset, suggesting that different mechanisms influenced their survival. Based on our results, ducks should not be considered direct surrogates for passerines when predicting effects of prescribed fire, shrub cover, and habitat edges on nest survival.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Contrasting nest survival patterns for ducks and songbirds in northern mixed-grass prairie|
|Series title||Journal of Wildlife Management|
|Contributing office(s)||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge|