Edge effects reduce the nesting success of Acadian Flycatchers in a moderately fragmented forest

Jeffrey P. Hoover, Timothy H. Tear, Michael E. Baltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forest fragmentation can create negative edge effects that reduce the reproductive success of birds nesting near the forest/nonforest interface, and threaten bird populations deeper in remnant forest habitats. Negative edge effects may be more pronounced in landscapes that are moderately fragmented, particularly where agriculture is the primary land-use fragmenting forests. Information about the extent and strength of edge effects at a site can help guide conservation actions, and determine their effectiveness. We examined edge effects for birds breeding in a nearly contiguous forest fragmented by relatively narrow agricultural corridors in Illinois (USA). We measured rates of nest predation and brood parasitism for Acadian Flycatchers (Empidonax virescens) over a continuum of distances from the edge of an agricultural inholding. Nest predation and brood parasitism were highest near the edge and decreased with increasing distance from the edge. Given the cumulative effects of nest predation and brood parasitism on reproductive success, we determined that forest within 600 m of the inholding was sink habitat. We found, however, that deeper forest interior areas currently serve as source habitat, and that conversion of the entire 205 ha agricultural corridor to forest would add 1350 ha of source habitat for Acadian Flycatchers. Such results provide support for a local conservation strategy of forest consolidation and establish baseline measures necessary to determine the relative effectiveness of any subsequent reforestation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-436
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006


  • Cowbird parasitism
  • Empidonax virescens
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Nest predation
  • Source/sink habitat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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