As breeding populations of many grassland bird species decline, assessments of breeding habitat selection and reproductive success can provide useful insight into breeding ecology to support conservation delivery. Here, we demonstrate the use of nest location and survival data collated from 20 data contributors across the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States and Canada over a half century to examine habitat selection and nest survival of Western Willets (Tringa semipalmata inornata) and Marbled Godwits (Limosa fedoa), hereafter “willets” and “godwits.” Both willets and godwits selected territories with less variation in vegetation height and topography relative to available locations. Willets selected nest sites that were flatter, closer to wetlands, and had shorter vegetation than Marbled Godwits, while godwits selected territories with greater wetland cover and shorter vegetation. Despite differences in fine-scale habitat selection, willets and godwits experienced similar daily nest survival rates and ecological drivers of nest survival. Nest success for the entire nest exposure period was estimated to be 0.521 (95% credible interval: 0.39-0.65) for willets and 0.562 (95% credible interval: 0.42-0.70) for godwits. Nest survival for both species increased with nest age and distance from the nest to the nearest wetland edge, while nest survival of godwits declined with conspecific breeding density. These relationships, as well as a weaker positive effect of microtine rodent abundance on nest survival, resembled drivers of upland nesting waterfowl reproductive success in the same region, which we attribute to their shared nest predators. Nest survival analyses of our collaborative dataset required substantial consideration of biases emerging from different data collection methods, ultimately reaffirming the importance of nest aging techniques in proper nest fate assignment. Analysis of compiled datasets using emerging analysis methods will continue to grow our understanding of the ecology of data sparse species.
|Translated title of the contribution||Habitat selection and nest survival in two great plains shorebirds|
|Number of pages||29|
|Journal||Avian Conservation and Ecology|
|State||Published - Jun 2020|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
H. Specht conceived of this analysis, organized the collaboration, procured archived data, conducted analyses, and wrote the manuscript. E. Kusik compiled nest records from different sources into a single database. V. St-Louis helped with habitat selection analyses and T. Arnold helped develop the nest survival model. All other authors contributed data and provided feedback on proposals and the manuscript. We are grateful to those that collected, archived and shared data for this study: K. Smith, T. Schaffer, T. Buhl, L. Igl, J. Austin, M. Garvey, K. Guyn, D. Howerter, J. Walker, R. Meidenger, B. Toay, H. Duebbert, K. Higgins, H. Kantrud, A. Kruse, and J. Lokemoen. Data collection was supported by private land owners; Environment and Climate Change Canada; Ducks Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited Canada; the Eastern Irrigation District AB; Delta Waterfowl; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U. S.G.S Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Association; The North American Waterfowl Management Plan; Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation; Antelope Creek Habitat Development Area; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; John and Patricia Schlosser Environment Scholarship; Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship; Bill Shostak Wildlife Award; Margaret Brown Award in Environmental Studies and Wildlife Resources; Ralph Steinhauer Award; the University of Alberta; North Dakota Game and Fish Department; McIntire-Stennis USDA-NIFA (#94294); Louisiana State University AgCenter; Dave Ankney & Sandi Johnson Waterfowl and Wetlands Graduate Research Scholarship; John Barton Sr. Graduate Wildlife Scholarship; California Fish and Game; Conservation International; Alberta Bucks for Wildlife Program; University of Saskatchewan; National Science Foundation Grant (#00039202) and the University of Minnesota Graduate School. This manuscript benefited from feedback by G. McCaffrey, H. Reich, N. Niemuth, and F. Cuthbert.
- Alternate prey
- Marbled Godwit
- Nest age
- Nest survival
- Nest-site selection