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Traditional versus non-traditional nest-site choice: alternative decision strategies for nest-site selection

H. Hoi, A. Krištín, F. Valera and C. Hoi
Oecologia
Vol. 169, No. 1 (May 2012), pp. 117-124
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41487936
Page Count: 8
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Traditional versus non-traditional nest-site choice: alternative decision strategies for nest-site selection
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Abstract

In order to understand habitat selection, it is important to consider the way individual animals assess the suitability of a future reproductive site. One way of investigating mechanisms (such as those involved in nest site selection) is to examine breeding success and habitat characteristics in terms of animals returning to a place where they have already reproduced and using the same location over successive years or searching for new alternatives. This approach seems especially suitable for testing recent hypotheses suggesting that nest site selection is an integrative process that includes the use of social information (e.g. past breeding success of conspecifics). Determining the factors that elicit conservative or innovative behaviour regarding nest-site selection could be important for improving our understanding of habitat selection decisions in animals. More than half of the nests of the long-distance migratory lesser grey shrike Lanius minor, are built in the same or neighbouring trees. We found no evidence that habitat characteristics influence nest-site tradition. On the contrary, social information in terms of the presence of conspecifics and past reproductive success in terms of complete nest failures due to nest predation (but not detailed information such as variation in fledgling number) influenced nest-site tradition. Hence, social information and past reproductive success may play a role in nest-site choice in this species. Our results further demonstrate that previous experience with a nest site does not appear to be beneficial.

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