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Colonial and Solitary Nesting Choice as Alternative Breeding Tactics in Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

Lajos Sasvári and Zoltán Hegyi
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 63, No. 2 (Apr., 1994), pp. 265-274
DOI: 10.2307/5545
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5545
Page Count: 10
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Colonial and Solitary Nesting Choice as Alternative Breeding Tactics in Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
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Abstract

1. A total of 250 nestboxes were arranged, 25 with 50 m separations to simulate solitary breeding and 25 3-5 m apart to imitate colonial breeding in each of five plots in order to study tree sparrows (Passer montanus L.) in a suburban area of Budapest, Hungary (19 degrees 04 prime E, 47 degrees 41 prime N). Nestlings and adults were banded with coloured rings, and breeding performance, rate of return and recruitment were analysed. 2. Throughout the 6-year period of the study 34 single, 209 double and 137 triple breeding events were found in colonies, and 24 single, 130 double and 93 triple breeding events were found in solitary nests. Mean yearly total production of breeding pairs was 10.75 eggs and 7.23 fledglings. 3. Both double- and triple-breeding parents produced more eggs and fledglings colonially than in solitary nests in their first broods, but this was reversed in their second and third broods. 4. The majority of breeding pairs chose colonial nesting in first broods. A higher rate of colonial than solitary breeders changed nesting situation between broods, so the majority of breeding pairs nested solitarily in third broods. 5. Both colonial and solitary females whose reproductive performance was low shifted nesting situation between subsequent broods. Colonial pairs, which moved to solitary nests benefited by changing, solitary pairs benefited by retaining their nesting situation in subsequent broods. 6. The majority of returning females chose colonial breeding and retained it through the season in their first breeding year. Both colonial and solitary females of low productivity shifted nesting situation between subsequent breeding years. 7. Colonial females benefited by between-year changing because their productivity was higher, and they reared more recruiting young per brood in solitary nests than females which retained colonial nesting. Conversely, solitary females benefited by retention of their nesting situation. The rate of shifting females increased in colonies and decreased in solitary nest spacing in subsequent breeding years and, as a consequence, the majority of females bred in solitary nests in the second and third years of their return. 8. The seasonal and lifetime trend in preferring solitary breeding reflects a result of alternative breeding tactics which seems to be a viable reproductive strategy for tree sparrows.

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