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Effects of Prescribed Fire on Depredation Rates of Natural and Artificial Seaside Sparrow Nests

Barbara S. Almario, Peter P. Marra, J. Edward Gates and Laura Mitchell
The Wilson Journal of Ornithology
Vol. 121, No. 4 (Dec., 2009), pp. 770-777
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20616984
Page Count: 8
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Effects of Prescribed Fire on Depredation Rates of Natural and Artificial Seaside Sparrow Nests
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Abstract

We compared depredation rates of natural and artificial nests of Seaside Sparrows (Ammodramus maritimus) within winter burned and unburned marsh breeding habitats. Natural nests on burned sites in 2002 were depredated at a higher rate (35.3%) during the incubation stage, compared to unburned sites (13.3%). Depredation rates of natural nests were similar between burn treatments during the nestling stage. Artificial nests exhibited significantly higher depredation rates during the incubation stage on burned compared to unburned sites in 2002. No artificial nest studies were conducted in 2003, but we examined natural nest depredation rates. Depredation rates on natural nests in 2003 were similar between burned and unburned sites during both incubation and nestling stages. Differences in nest depredation rates between 2002 and 2003 may be due to increased rainfall in 2003 leading to higher biological productivity, reduced burn effectiveness and coverage, as well as a change in nest placement by Seaside Sparrows on burned sites. Shrub-nesting species may not be as vulnerable to higher rates of nest depredation induced by prescribed burning because fire appears to only minimally impact woody shrubs, while greatly reducing biomass of herbaceous vegetation.

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