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Is the risk of nest predation heterospecifically density-dependent in precocial species belonging to different nesting guilds?

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Nest predation is a key source of mortality and variation in fitness, but the effect co-occurring species belonging to different nesting guilds have on each other’s nest success is poorly understood. By using artificial nests, we tested if predation on cavity nests of Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula (L., 1758)) is increased in the presence of ground nests of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos L., 1758) and vice versa. Specifically, by adding ground nests in the vicinity of cavity nests, we tested the hypothesis that predation on cavity nests is heterospecifically density-dependent. A shared predator, the pine marten (Martes martes (L., 1758)), was intensively hunted in one of the study areas, but not in the other, leading to most individuals in the former being naïve immigrants. Cavity-nest fate was not affected by addition of ground nests. Similarly, ground-nest survival did not decrease when nearby cavity nests were depredated. Fate of nests in a given nest cavity was highly predictable between years in the study area with minimal removal of pine martens, but not in the one with intensive removal. Predation rate was higher on cavity nests than on ground nests. Predation on ground nests was lower in the study area with intensive removal of pine martens. We conclude there was neither apparent competition between guilds nor heterospecific density-dependence in predation risk.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Aquatic Biology and Chemistry, Kristianstad University, SE-291 88 Kristianstad, Sweden. 2: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Joensuu Game and Fisheries Research, Yliopistokatu 6, FIN-80100 Joensuu, Finland.

Publication date: December 16, 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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