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Biodiversité dans l’Anthropocène : Dynamique, Fonction et Gestion | EE33

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New article in STOTEN

Detectability and predator strategy affect egg depredation rates: implication for mitigating depredation in farmlands
Carolina Bravo, Mathieu Sarasa, Vincent Bretagnolle, Olivier Pays

DOI  :

Abstract : Predation is a major evolutionary force in animal ecology. Mechanisms by which prey coloration provides camouflage has been widely studied. However, predator response to prey camouflage and concealment has received less attention. Understanding vegetation structure effect on depredation success could help managers design strategies to mitigate the depredation of managed species (e.g., threatened or hunted). We aimed to investigate the relationship between depredation rate, nest camouflage and concealment in ground-nesting birds of farmlands, and their predators. We set up an experiment of 2576 artificial ground nests to assess the role of egg coloration (white, light green, and dark green), egg size (small, medium, and large), and vegetation structure (vegetation height and land use) in nest survival rates. We also explored the role of predator searching strategies by analysing clumped depredation and multiple depredation events. Of the nests, 34.0% were depredated, with corvids as the predators 78.5% of the time. Corvid depredation decreased by 40-60% in grasslands and spring crops above a vegetation height of 30cm. In contrast, vegetation height and land use may be of far less importance in avoiding depredation by other predators. The probability of depredation was spatially clumped, suggesting that predators increase search effort in areas where a nest was previously encountered. Neighboring depredation and depredation repetition were more frequent in corvids than in other predators. Our study indicates that nests in vegetation higher than 30cm had a drastic reduction in depredation rates by corvids. Management of vegetation structure is a key tool to mitigate depredation risk, and improving the availability of alternative food resources may be a complementary tool.

  • Vegetation higher than 30 cm strongly reduced dummy eggs predation rates by corvids
  • Predator type affects predation rates because of spatial and temporal cues
  • Nest predation by corvids might be the result of an active search strategy
  • Management of vegetation structure may be a key tool to mitigate predation risk