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Ground nesting bird species differ in their habitat choice with respect to the proximity of woodland edges. Some species, which have partially covered nests (e.g. Anthus trivialis, Miliaria calandra), breed close to woodland edges, whereas others, which have open nests (e.g. Alauda arvensis, Anthus pratensis, Motacilla flava), always breed at some distance from edges. I experimentally tested the hypothesis that differential nest predation in relation to nest type affected nest site selection. Brown spotted plasticine eggs mimicking those of skylarks were placed in open or partially covered nests at distances of 200, 25 and 0 m outside woodland edges and at distances of 25 and 100 m inside woodlots. The frequency of nest predation was related to nest type and distances from edges, since partially covered nest were preyed upon less often than open nests near the edge, but not at 100 m distances inside and 200 m distances outside woodlots. Nest predation was caused by corvids with predation intensity proportional to their local abundance. Different corvid species preyed on nests at different distances from the field-woodland ecotone. Magpies Pica pica preyed on open nests more often than hooded crows Corvus cornix and jays Garrulus glandarius. Differential nest predation associated with nest types and predator distributions thus affected the distribution pattern of ground nesting passerine guilds.
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