Nesting ecology of songbirds along an urban to rural gradient
September 2019 - December 2020
- University of Arkansas Graduate School
Nest predation is the primary cause of nest failure for most bird species and thus plays a crucial role in avian population dynamics. Ornithologists are thus interested in what choices birds can make when selecting nest sites to reduce predation risk. However, for birds that nest along an urban to rural gradient, the identity of nest predators is likely to change and thus birds must alter their nest site selections accordingly. Working with volunteer homeowners, Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, and the City of Fayetteville, graduate student Grace Christie and I are exploring how nest site selection, predator identity, and predation risk varies for 6 bird species that nest along an urban to rural gradient. Our results should inform predator-prey ecology theory as well as provide practical management applications for managers tasked with recovering birds that nest in human dominated ecosystems. Additionally, this study will allow us to address several important hypotheses in the predator-prey field including the "urban nest predator paradox" and the "predator prolifieration" hypothesis.