File(s) under permanent embargo

The influence of cover on nesting Red-capped Plovers: a trade-off between thermoregulation and predation risk?

journal contribution
posted on 2014-10-01, 00:00 authored by Lomas, Stephanie, Whisson, Desley, Maguire, Grainne, Tan, laura, Guay, Patrick-Jean, Mike WestonMike Weston
Some ground-nesting birds adopt a mixed strategy of nesting in the open, or under cover (e.g. vegetation). This may represent a trade-off between thermally favourable nest sites (covered) and those that enable the early detection and avoidance of predators (open). This study examined whether such a trade-off exists for Redcapped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus, whose eggs are preyed upon principally by Little Raven Corvus mellori. For real and artificial nests, nest temperatures under cover (real, 25.9 ± 0.1°C; false, 16.2 ± 0.5°C) were cooler than those in the open (real, 26.8 ± 0.1°C; false, 17.4 ± 0.9°C). Covered nests had more visual obstructions than open nests (covered, 65.5% ± 11.4%; open, 7.4% ± 2.8%) and a standardised measure of incubator escape distance, initiated by experimental human approaches, indicated incubators fled open nests at longer distances than for covered nests. Nests under cover showed a slightly (non-significant) higher probability of surviving one day (Daily Survival Rate [DSR] = 0.978) than those in the open (DSR = 0.950). For false nests containing model eggs, covered nests exhibited better survival to 10 days compared with open nests (20.4% vs. 4.7%). Thus, covered nests are associated with enhanced thermal environments and egg survival, but predators can approach the incubator more closely. Overall, the proposed trade-off between thermal and predation risks associated with nest sites appears to exist and explains the ongoing occurrence of nests in open and covered locations.



The Victorian naturalist






115 - 127


Field Naturalists Club of Victoria


Blackburn, Vic



Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria

Usage metrics