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Predator response, parental behavior, and nest survival of forest birds in a tropical rainforest

Cummins, George C. (2017) Predator response, parental behavior, and nest survival of forest birds in a tropical rainforest. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The parental behaviors of species that care for their young are tailored to the environment they live in due to the high selective pressure of reproducing successfully. For birds, nest predation is thought to be the main driver of many reproductive traits, including parental behaviors. Other measures of habitat quality such as food availability and climate also influence nest survival and parental behaviors. In places where predator species have been introduced and/or habitat change has occurred, we may expect endemic species to either go extinct or quickly adapt to these new interactions with their environment. This study examined two aspects of parental behavior of birds living in a changed environment. First, using endemic Hawaiian birds and recently introduced birds as a model system, I experimentally tested responses to current, historical, and introduced predators. I found that endemic bird species responded to a model of an introduced predator, a rat (Rattus sp), with similar intensity to that of a novel object (a box), suggesting a general neophobic reaction. Endemic birds, however, showed less variability in response to the rat, suggesting some differentiation of the two, with a stronger, more uniform response to the rat. For recently introduced birds, I found that one species responded strongly to a historical predator that it had not seen for ca. 90 years (a snake), while another recently introduced species did not, suggesting large inter-specific variation in retention of antipredator behavior. The second aspect of my thesis compared nest survival and nest attendance behavior between the same species breeding in a forest restored from pastureland ca. 20 years ago and those breeding in nearby old-growth forest. I found no difference in nest survival or nest attendance behaviors between the restored forest and an old-growth forest, indicating that recently restored forests provided viable breeding habitat and highlighting the importance of using behavior and reproductive success to measure effects of restoration. Both studies indicate that endemic species are adaptable in respect to introduced species and habitat changes. These are promising results in the face of the rapid anthropogenic changes facing many species across the globe today.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Nest attendance; Nest predator; Nest success; Predator response; Restoration
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Science > Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2017 21:36
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/4982

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