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

Separated by coma

New paper in STOTEN

Hedgerows interact with forests to shape the abundance of mesopredators and their predation rate on eggs in farmland landscapes
Carolina Bravo, Mathieu Sarasa, Vincent Bretagnolle, Olivier Pays


Asbtract : Nest predation is the main cause of reproductive failure, particularly in ground-nesting birds on farmlands. Understanding the links between nest predation and habitat change can help design effective management schemes to constrain the negative impact of predation pressure on birds. However, the mechanisms underlying the relationships between landscape attributes, predator distribution, and nest predation are still unclear. Here, we use an experimental approach to examine the effects of distance to the hedgerow as well as hedgerow and forest densities on the abundance of major mesopredators of ground nests of our study area (i.e., corvids) and on the predation rate of artificial ground nests (n = 2576). We found evidence that landscape configuration influenced predation patterns differently depending on the predator species. Nest predation by corvids was more likely in homogeneous and open agricultural landscapes with a low density of forest and hedgerows, whereas predation by other predators was more likely close to hedgerows. Nest predation by corvids and the abundance of corvids also tended to be lower in landscapes dominated by grasslands. Other variables such as road density and distance to human settlements had contrasted effects on the likelihood of a nest being depredated by corvids, i.e., no effect with proximity to human settlements and decreasing trend with road density. Altogether, our results suggest that landscape features interact with mesopredator distribution and their predation rates of ground nests. Therefore, from a conservation and management perspective, a heterogeneous agricultural landscape that includes a mixture of crops associated with patches of forests, hedgerows, and grasslands offering alternative food to generalist predators should contribute to reducing ground-nesting bird predation.