Fecal sacs do not increase nest predation in a ground nester

Enrique Rubio, Olivia Sanllorente, B. Irene Tieleman, Juan Diego Ibanez-Alamo*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

Onderzoeksoutput: ArticleAcademicpeer review

4 Citaten (Scopus)
195 Downloads (Pure)


Most altricial birds remove their nestlings' feces from the nest, but the evolutionary forces driving this behavior are poorly understood. A possible adaptive explanation for this could be that birds avoid the attraction of nest predators to their nests due to the visual or olfactory cues produced by feces (nest predation hypothesis). This hypothesis has received contrasting support indicating that additional experimental studies are needed, particularly with respect to the visual component of fecal sacs. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment manipulating the presence of fecal sacs on inactive Woodlark (Lullula arborea) nests. This ground nester has highly cryptic nests that are mainly depredated by visually oriented nest predators (i.e., corvids) in our study population, making it an excellent system to test for the nest predation hypothesis. Our results showed that the presence of fecal sacs in the nest does not seem to be an important factor explaining nest predation. Interestingly, the effect of nest concealment, the most important factor explaining nest predation in Woodlark nests, depended on whether the nest was depredated the previous year or not, supporting the importance of using different nesting sites between years. Our findings indicate that this important nest sanitation behavior is not likely motivated by nest predation and highlight the need to explore alternative selective pressures in this context.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)985-990
Aantal pagina's6
TijdschriftJournal of Ornithology
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
StatusPublished - okt.-2018

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