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Karsten Laursen

Predation and nutrients drive population declines in breeding waders

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DOI

  • Anders Pape Moller, UMR 8079 Ecologie Systematique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud
  • ,
  • Ole Thorup, Amphi Consult
  • ,
  • Karsten Laursen

Allee effects are defined as a decline in per capita fitness at low population density. We hypothesized that predation reduces population size of breeding waders and thereby the efficiency of predator deterrence, while total nitrogen through its effects on primary and secondary productivity increases population size. Therefore, nest predation could have negative consequences for population size because nest failure generally results in breeding dispersal and hence reduced local population density. To test these predictions, we recorded nest predation in five species of waders for 4,745 nests during 1987-2015 at the nature reserve Tipperne, Denmark. Predation rates were generally negatively related to conspecific and heterospecific population density, but positively related to overall population density of the entire wader community. Nest predation and population density were related to ground water level, management (grazing and mowing), and nutrients. High nest predation with a time lag of one year resulted in low overall breeding population density, while high nutrient levels resulted in higher population density. These two factors accounted for 86% of the variance in population size, presumably due to effects of nest predation on emigration, while nutrient levels increased the level of vegetation cover and the abundance of food in the surrounding brackish water. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that predation may reduce population density through negative density dependence, while total nitrogen at adjacent shallow water may increase population size. Nest predation rates were reduced by high ground water level in March, grazing by cattle and mowing that affected access to and susceptibility of nests to predators. These effects can be managed to benefit breeding waders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Applications
Volume28
Issue5
Pages (from-to)1292-1301
Number of pages10
ISSN1051-0761
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

    Research areas

  • Allee effect, communal defense, density dependence, interspecific interactions, nest predation, population regulation, DENSITY-DEPENDENT PREDATION, GODWIT LIMOSA-LIMOSA, CURLEW NUMENIUS-ARQUATA, NEST PREDATION, AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION, VANELLUS-VANELLUS, BIRDS, SUCCESS, MANAGEMENT, ABUNDANCE

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