Testing hypotheses about the function of repeated nest abandonment as a life history strategy in a passerine bird

Beckmann, Christa and Martin, Kathy 2016, Testing hypotheses about the function of repeated nest abandonment as a life history strategy in a passerine bird, IBIS: the international journal of avian science, vol. 158, no. 2, pp. 335-342, doi: 10.1111/ibi.12361.

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Title Testing hypotheses about the function of repeated nest abandonment as a life history strategy in a passerine bird
Author(s) Beckmann, ChristaORCID iD for Beckmann, Christa orcid.org/0000-0002-7904-7228
Martin, Kathy
Journal name IBIS: the international journal of avian science
Volume number 158
Issue number 2
Start page 335
End page 342
Total pages 8
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2016-04
ISSN 1474-919X
Keyword(s) anti-predator behaviour
elevational gradient
nest desertion
nest predation
nest-site selection
predation risk assessment
Summary Nest structures are essential for successful reproduction in most bird species. Nest construction costs time and energy, and most bird species typically build one nest per breeding attempt. Some species, however, build more than one nest, and the reason for this behaviour is often unclear. In the Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa, nest abandonment before egg-laying is very common. Fantails will build up to seven nests within a breeding season, and pairs abandon up to 71% of their nests before egg-laying. We describe multiple nest-building behaviour in the Grey Fantail and test four hypotheses explaining nest abandonment in this species: cryptic depredation, destruction of nests during storm events, and two anti-predatory responses (construction of decoy nests to confuse predators, and increasing concealment to 'hide' nests more effectively). We found support for only one hypothesis - that abandonment is related to nest concealment. Abandoned nests were significantly less concealed than nests that received eggs. Most abandoned nests were not completely built and none received eggs, thus ruling out cryptic predation. Nests were not more likely to be abandoned following storm events. The decoy nest hypothesis was refuted as abandoned nests were constructed at any point during the breeding season and some nests were dismantled and the material used to build the subsequent nest. Thus, Grey Fantails are flexible about nest-site locations during the nest-building phase and readily abandon nest locations if they are found to have deficient security.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/ibi.12361
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
0608 Zoology
0806 Information Systems
0602 Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Wiley
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30085709

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