Nest survival in a large river valley: an experiment using artificial nests on an island and bank of Vistula River (Poland)
Predation pressure, which varies among habitats, is important factor for selection of nesting sites by birds. We investigated artificial nest depredation on an island 23 ha in size and on the river bank covered by willow-poplar forest and meadows in the middle Vistula river valley, in the spring and autumn 2006. We used polyurethane thrush-size nests placed at three heights (ground, bush and tree) with one quail egg. Each nest was checked twice, 7 and 14 days after the beginning of the experiment, in total 381 nest-inspections was included. Additionally, we live-trapped rodents (data from 510 trapnights included) which are potential predators of broods. We found that the survival rate of artificial nests was higher on the island as compared to the bank. Artificial nests placed on the ground revealed the higher survival rate than the nests placed on trees and bushes. Nest survival rate was higher in the autumn than in the spring. Repeatability of the results (survived vs. depredated) for the first and second 7-day period was high but lower on the island as compared to the bank. The abundance of rodents was higher on the bank during the spring, but no difference was recorded in the autumn. Rodents were also more abundant in the autumn than in the spring. This may indicate that survival rates of nests were not affected by rodents directly.
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