Breeding habitat preference and nest success of Red-necked Phalaropes on Niglintgak Island, Northwest Territories

Walpole, Bree; Nol, Erica; Johnston, Vicky
December 2008
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Dec2008, Vol. 86 Issue 12, p1346
Academic Journal
Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus (L., 1758)) breed throughout arctic and subarctic wetlands. These wetlands provide Red-necked Phalaropes dense graminoid habitat that shelters and conceals nests, and freshwater ponds where phalaropes engage in social interactions and feed on small aquatic invertebrates. We studied breeding habitat preference of Red-necked Phalaropes at multiple scales and determined which, if any, nest-site characteristics influenced hatching success. Red-necked Phalaropes avoided habitat at the meso (home range) scale containing large areas of mud and shrub cover, and selected sites with greater cover of graminoids, aquatic emergents, and open water than that available in the environment. At the micro (nest) scale, phalaropes chose sites dominated by graminoids and water. In 2005, concealed nests experienced higher daily nest survival than exposed nests. In 2006, 40% of nests were destroyed during a summer storm surge and we detected no differences in habitat characteristics between the remaining successful and unsuccessful nests. We suggest that annual differences in the adaptive value of nest-site selection depend on the relative abundance of mammalian and avian predators. A habitat model using data at the meso scale correctly identified phalarope habitat and has the potential to be used broadly across the western Arctic. Les phalaropes à bec étroit (Phalaropus lobatus (L., 1758)) se reproduisent dans l’ensemble des terres humides des régions arctique et subarctique. Ces terres humides procurent aux phalaropes à bec étroit un habitat de graminoïdes denses qui protège et dissimule les nids et des étangs d’eau douce dans lesquels les phalaropes mènent leurs interactions sociales et se nourrissent de petits invertébrés aquatiques. Nous étudions les préférences d’habitat de reproduction des phalaropes à bec étroit à plusieurs échelles et déterminons, lorsqu’il y a lieu, les caractéristiques des sites de nidification qui influencent le succès de l’éclosion. À l’échelle moyenne (du domaine vital), les phalaropes à bec étroit évitent les habitats contenant de grandes étendues de boue et une couverture de buissons et choisissent des sites avec une couverture plus importante de graminoïdes, de plantes aquatiques émergentes et d’eau libre que les sites généralement disponibles dans le milieu. À l’échelle fine (du nid), les phalaropes sélectionnent les sites dominés par les graminoïdes et l’eau. En 2005, les nids cachés ont connu une survie journalière des petits au nid plus élevée que les nids exposés. En 2006, 40 % des nids ont été détruits durant une vague de tempêtes estivales et nous ne détectons aucune différence de caractéristiques entre les nids restants qu’ils aient eu ou non du succès. Nous croyons que les différences annuelles de valeur adaptative du choix du site de nidification dépendent de l’abondance des mammifères et des oiseaux prédateurs. Un modèle d’habitat basé sur des données à l’échelle moyenne identifie correctement l’habitat des phalaropes et peut potentiellement servir de façon plus large dans tout l’ouest de l’Arctique.


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