Coping with Shifting Nest Predation Refuges by European Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Halupka, Lucyna; Halupka, Konrad; Klimczuk, Ewelina; Sztwiertnia, Hanna
December 2014
PLoS ONE;Dec2014, Vol. 9 Issue 12, p1
Academic Journal
Predation, the most important source of nest mortality in altricial birds, has been a subject of numerous studies during past decades. However, the temporal dynamics between changing predation pressures and parental responses remain poorly understood. We analysed characteristics of 524 nests of European reed warblers monitored during six consecutive breeding seasons in the same area, and found some support for the shifting nest predation refuge hypothesis. Nest site characteristics were correlated with nest fate, but a nest with the same nest-site attributes could be relatively safe in one season and vulnerable to predation in another. Thus nest predation refuges were ephemeral and there was no between-season consistency in nest predation patterns. Reed warblers that lost their first nests in a given season did not disperse farther for the subsequent reproductive attempt, compared to successful individuals, but they introduced more changes to their second nest sites. In subsequent nests, predation risk remained constant for birds that changed nest-site characteristics, but increased for those that did not. At the between-season temporal scale, individual birds did not perform better with age in terms of reducing nest predation risk. We conclude that the experience acquired in previous years may not be useful, given that nest predation refuges are not stable.


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