Shorebird incubation behviour and its influence on the risk of nest predation

P.A. Smith, I. Tulp, H. Schekkerman, H.G. Gilchrist, M.R. Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Both nest survival and incubation behaviour are highly variable among shorebirds (Charadrii), and we tested whether more conspicuous incubation behaviour increased the risk of nest predation. During 2000-2006, we monitored nest fate at 901 shorebird nests at three study sites across the circumpolar Arctic. Using miniature video recorders and nest temperature sensors, we obtained 782 days of behavioural data for 161 nests of 11 species. We related nest fate to the rate and duration of adults' nest absences or restless movements on the nest, as well as the total proportion of each day that adult birds engaged in these activities. Nest predation was positively related to the proportion of time that each species left the nest unattended. After controlling for species effects, the likelihood of a successful nesting attempt was lower for individuals that spent more time off the nest, but among failed nests, the number of days that a nest survived prior to depredation was not significantly predicted by measures of incubation behaviour. To control for weather or seasonal effects, we paired observations from nests that were ultimately depredated with observations from successful nests of the same species on the same day. In this paired sample (dominated by two species: red phalaropes, Phalaropus fulicarius, and little stints, Calidris minuta), both incubation recesses and restless movements were more numerous among failed versus successful nests. Our results suggest that more conspicuous incubation behaviour is indeed related to a higher risk of nest predation, and that this relationship may underlie patterns of nest survival within and among shorebird species. (C) 2012 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-842
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume84
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • daily energy-expenditure
  • site selection
  • parent birds
  • sandpipers
  • defense
  • pigmentation
  • patterns
  • habitat
  • success
  • waders

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