Increased nest defence of upland-nesting ducks in response to experimentally reduced risk of nest predation

John A. Dassow, Michael W. Eichholz, Joshua D. Stafford, Patrick J Weatherhead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Parent birds should take greater risks defending nests that have a higher probability of success. Given high rates of mammalian nest predation, therefore, parents should risk more for nests in areas with a lower risk of mammalian predation. We tested this hypothesis using nest defence data from over 1300 nests of six species of dabbling ducks studied in an area where predation risk had been reduced through removal of mammalian predators. When predator removal reduced nest predation, the ducks increased risk taking as predicted. Also as predicted, risk taking varied inversely with body size, an index of annual survival, among species. For ducks to vary nest defence in response to variation in predation risk they must be able to assess the risk of nest predation. Because ducks modified nest defence in the breeding season immediately following predator removal, ducks may be able to assess predator abundance indirectly (e.g. by UV reflection from urine) rather than by seeing or interacting directly with the predators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-67
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

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nest predation
ducks
nest
highlands
nests
predation
predator
predators
predation risk
breeding season
urine
defence
body size
bird
removal
birds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Increased nest defence of upland-nesting ducks in response to experimentally reduced risk of nest predation. / Dassow, John A.; Eichholz, Michael W.; Stafford, Joshua D.; Weatherhead, Patrick J.

In: Journal of Avian Biology, Vol. 43, No. 1, 01.01.2012, p. 61-67.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dassow, John A. ; Eichholz, Michael W. ; Stafford, Joshua D. ; Weatherhead, Patrick J. / Increased nest defence of upland-nesting ducks in response to experimentally reduced risk of nest predation. In: Journal of Avian Biology. 2012 ; Vol. 43, No. 1. pp. 61-67.
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