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The influence of nest-site characteristics on the nesting success of the Karoo Prinia (Prinia maculosa)

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Choice of nest site has important consequences for nest survival. We examined nest-site characteristics relative to nest success in Karoo Prinias breeding in coastal dwarf shrubland, where high nest predation is the main cause of nest failure. Initially, we compared nests that failed during the building, laying, incubation and nestling stages and those from which young were successfully raised, to test whether nests that survived to progressive stages in the nesting cycle differed in their nest-site characteristics. Subsequently, we compared the characteristics of successful nests with those of unsuccessful nests. The nest-site characteristics considered included nest height, nest-plant height, nest-plant species, distance from lateral foliage edge, nest concealment, nest-patch heterogeneity and vegetation cover at four different heights. We were unable to distinguish between the nest-site characteristics of nests that failed during the various stages of the nesting cycle. Concealment was the main nest-site characteristic that differentiated successful nests from unsuccessful nests, with successful nests being located in more concealed sites. The other variables that contributed to the discrimination between successful and unsuccessful nests by discriminant function analysis included nest-plant type and distance from edge, which are also directly related to concealment. This suggests that nest concealment is the most important variable influencing nesting success at this site, which has a preponderance of visually-oriented predators.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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