AVIS-IBIS

Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Are Changes in Predatory Species Composition and Breeding Performance Responsible for the Decline of Coots Fulica atra in Milicz Ponds Reserve (SW Poland)?

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2009
Authors:Ręk, P
Journal:Acta Ornithologica
Volume:44
Issue:1
Date Published:2009
ISBN Number:0001-6454
Keywords:Corone, Corone cornix, Corone corone, Corvidae, Corvus, Corvus cornix, Corvus corone, Corvus corone cornix, Corvus corone corone, Fulica, Fulica atra, Poland, Rallidae
Abstract:Abstract. Both native and non-native predators should strongly affect resident fauna. Nevertheless, because of a lack of defensive mechanisms in potential prey, the influence of non-native predators should have longer-lasting and more deleterious repercussions. The breeding ecology of the Coot was studied in the Milicz Ponds reserve and compared with data from 20 years earlier. In the meantime, non-native, mammalian predators (American Mink Mustela vison, Raccoon Dog Nyctereutes procyonoides and Raccoon Procyon lotor) turned up in this area, while the numbers of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix, the main predator of Coot nests, decreased. Compared with 1980?1982, the number of Coots in 2002?2003 dropped by more than half and mean clutch size decreased. Breeding success and the number of hatchlings per pair remained unchanged; in the 1980s, however, Coots renested more frequently, there was greater nesting synchrony and breeding seasons were demonstrably shorter. Moreover, although predation still remained the main cause of losses, its numbers were decreasing. Coots nesting on islands were the most successful, which was due to the weaker predation on the part of Crows. In contrast, the mammalian (non-native) predators did not appear to play a significant role in the breeding success in 2002?2003. Nevertheless, taking into account the breeding parameters of the Coot population and the nature of the relationship between mammalian/bird predators and Coots, it does seem that the low density of Coots in 2002?2003 was a reaction to the pressure of mammalian predators.Abstract. Both native and non-native predators should strongly affect resident fauna. Nevertheless, because of a lack of defensive mechanisms in potential prey, the influence of non-native predators should have longer-lasting and more deleterious repercussions. The breeding ecology of the Coot was studied in the Milicz Ponds reserve and compared with data from 20 years earlier. In the meantime, non-native, mammalian predators (American Mink Mustela vison, Raccoon Dog Nyctereutes procyonoides and Raccoon Procyon lotor) turned up in this area, while the numbers of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix, the main predator of Coot nests, decreased. Compared with 1980?1982, the number of Coots in 2002?2003 dropped by more than half and mean clutch size decreased. Breeding success and the number of hatchlings per pair remained unchanged; in the 1980s, however, Coots renested more frequently, there was greater nesting synchrony and breeding seasons were demonstrably shorter. Moreover, although predation still remained the main cause of losses, its numbers were decreasing. Coots nesting on islands were the most successful, which was due to the weaker predation on the part of Crows. In contrast, the mammalian (non-native) predators did not appear to play a significant role in the breeding success in 2002?2003. Nevertheless, taking into account the breeding parameters of the Coot population and the nature of the relationship between mammalian/bird predators and Coots, it does seem that the low density of Coots in 2002?2003 was a reaction to the pressure of mammalian predators.
URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3161/000164509X464876
Short Title:Acta Ornithologica
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