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Nest-site selection of passerines: Effects of geographic scale and public and personal information

TitleNest-site selection of passerines: Effects of geographic scale and public and personal information
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsCitta, JJ, Lindberg, MS

Nest-site selection is an important determinant of individual fitness in birds.Understanding what information individuals use to choose nest sites is therefore important forunderstanding the evolution of nest-site selection, the dynamics of populations, and theconservation of species. We used five years of mark–recapture data for Mountain Bluebirds(Sialia currucoides) to examine how dispersal probability and nest-site selection vary withpotential cues of nest-site quality. Dispersal distance between breeding seasons and nest-siteselection were modeled as a function of personal reproductive success, conspecific density,conspecific reproductive success, and habitat type.Between years, the dispersal probability was related to personal reproductive success, notconspecific information, and individuals fledging fewer young dispersed longer distances. Fordispersing individuals, the probability that a nest site was selected in year i was negativelyrelated to distance from the nest site selected in year i 1 for all age and sex classes, andpositively related to conspecific density and reproductive success in year i 1 for both secondyear(SY) and after-hatch-year (AHY) females. However, nest-site selection in year i was morestrongly related to conspecific density in year i 1 for hatch-year (HY) females and was muchmore strongly related to the reproductive success of conspecifics in year i 1 for AHY females.Nest-site selection of HY and AHY males was not consistently related to the metrics ofconspecific information, but we suspect that relationships were obscured by competitiveinteractions. We found no evidence indicating that individuals respond differently toconspecific information at longer distances, suggesting that individuals limit dispersal toareas where they have prior knowledge. We predict that these patterns of nest-site selectionwill allow birds to loosely track nest-site quality and maintain an ideal free distribution, whereaverage fitness is equal in all habitat types.

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