The spatial distribution of pair quality within waterbird colonies has been suggested to follow one of three theoretical models: central-periphery, satellite, or random. The central-periphery pattern occurs in homogeneous habitats, where good-quality pairs occupy better protected, central
nesting sites. In contrast, the satellite and random patterns are associated with heterogeneous habitats and they assume that good-quality pairs occupy the most attractive nesting sites irrespectively of their location within the colony. Spatial patterns of laying date, clutch size, and fledging
success were analysed with geostatistical tools in the colony of tree-nesting subspecies of Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis (Blumenbach, 1798)) in central Poland. There was support
for the random or satellite model in the distribution of clutch size, which was considered a reliable proxy of pair quality. We also found a positive correlation of clutch size with nest height. These results implicate that the habitat of tree-nesting colonial waterbirds may produce sufficient
variation in the nesting-site quality to disrupt the central-periphery gradients of pair-quality distribution. In contrast, distribution of fledging success within the colony followed a clear central-periphery pattern, which was suggested to reflect an increased predation rate at the edges
of the colony, rather than the intrinsic quality of breeding birds.
Department of Teacher Training and Biodiversity Studies, University of Łódź, Banacha 1/3, 90-237 Łódź, Poland. 2:
Medical University of Łódź, Sterlinga 1/3, 91-425 Łódź, Poland.
Publication date: July 22, 2012
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