Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Can redistribution of breeding colonies on a landscape mitigate changing predation danger?

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:Kenyon, JK, Smith, BD, Butler, RW
Journal:Journal of Avian Biology
Date Published:2007
ISBN Number:1600-048X
Keywords:Accipitridae, Ardea, Ardea herodias, Ardeidae, Canada, Columba, Columba palumbus, Columbidae, Egretta, Egretta sacra, Haliaeetus, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Herodias
Abstract:The reproductive success of colonially breeding species depends in part upon a trade-off between the benefit of a dilution effect against nestling predation within larger colonies and colony conspicuousness. However, there may be no net survivorship benefit of dilution if smaller colonies are sufficiently inconspicuous. This raises the question about how the size distribution of breeding colonies on a landscape might change as the predation danger for nestlings changes. In southwest British Columbia, Canada, bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus populations have increased exponentially at ∼5% per year in recent decades and prey upon nestlings of colonial breeding great blue herons Ardea herodias faninni. Motivated by field data on reproductive success in relation to colony size, modeling is used to ask under which circumstances trading off a dilution benefit against colony conspicuousness can improve population reproductive success. That is, which colonial nesting distribution, dispersed and cryptic versus clumped and conspicuous, best mitigates predation danger on nestlings? When predators are territorial, the modeling predicts a dispersed nesting strategy as attack rate increases, but not as predator numbers increase. When predators are non-territorial, the modeling predicts a dispersed nesting strategy as predator numbers and/or attack rates increase. When predators are both territorial and non-territorial, colonial nesting within a predator's territory improves reproductive success when attack rates are low. This suggests nesting in association with territorial predators may offer decreased levels of predation when compared with nesting amongst non-territorial predators. Thus a change in the colony size distribution of colonially breeding species might be anticipated on a landscape experiencing a change in predation danger.
Short Title:Journal of Avian Biology
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith