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Avian nest success, mammalian nest predator abundance, and invertebrate prey availability in a fragmented landscape

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Avian nest success is largely determined by predation, but factors affecting the abundance of potential nest predators are rarely studied. We used an information–theoretic approach to assess relative support for models including invertebrate biomass, mammalian nest predator abundance, and percent cover at nests as explanatory variables for nest success of Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla (L., 1766)) and Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina (J.F. Gmelin, 1789)). We ranked models including local vegetation characteristics and landscape composition at two spatial scales (100 and 2000 m) as explanatory variables for the abundance of mammalian nest predator groups and for prey biomass. The nest success of Ovenbirds was best explained by a positive association with percent cover by forbs and seedlings, whereas a positive relationship with prey biomass best explained the nest success of Wood Thrush. Most mammal genera were associated with landscape composition within 100 m of the study sites, and most were positively associated with housing density. Prey biomass was best explained by a positive association with less intensive agriculture within 2000 m. Implementing silvicultural techniques that preserve important habitat features within fragmented forests, limiting housing density within 100 m, and increasing the amount of less intensive agriculture within 2000 m of forest fragments may improve nest success for forest songbirds.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3B3, Canada. 2: Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9H 2J9, Canada. 3: Southern Science and Information Unit, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 659 Exeter Road, London, ON N6E 1L3, Canada.

Publication date: May 2, 2011

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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