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The Importance of Agriculture-Dominated Landscapes and Lack of Field Border Effect for Early-Succession Songbird Nest Success

DOI: 10.5751/ace-00424-050209

Keywords: early-succession birds , field borders , habitat shape , landscape context , nest parasitism , nest success

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In recent decades, many early-succession songbird species have experienced severe and widespread declines, which often are related to habitat destruction. Field borders create additional or enhance existing early-succession habitat on farmland. However, field border shape and the landscape context surrounding farms may influence the effectiveness of field borders in contributing to the stabilization or increase of early-succession bird populations. We examined the influence of linear and nonlinear field borders on farms in landscapes dominated by either agriculture or forests on nest success and Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) brood parasitism of Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) and Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) nests combined. Field border establishment did not affect nest survival probability and brood parasitism frequency of Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak nests. Indigo Bunting/Blue Grosbeak nest success probability was more than twice as high in agriculture-dominated landscapes (39%) than in forested landscapes (17%), and brood parasitism frequency was high (33%) but did not differ between landscapes. Edges in agriculture-dominated landscapes can be higher-quality habitats for early-succession birds than edges in forest-dominated landscapes, but our field border treatments did not enhance nest success for these birds on farms in either landscape.


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