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Giroux M, Trottier-Paquet M, Bêty J, Lamarre V, Lecomte N. (2016) Is it safe to nest near bold neighbours? Spatial patterns in predation risk associated with the density of American Golden-Plover nest. PeerJ Preprints4:e1929v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1929v1
Predation is one of the main factors explaining nesting mortality in most bird species. Birds can avoid nest predation or reduce predation pressure by breeding at higher latitude, showing anti-predator behaviour, and nesting in association with protective species. Plovers actively defend their territory by displaying early warning and aggressive/mobbing behaviour, potentially benefiting the neighbouring nests by decreasing their predation risk. To test for the existence of such a protective effect, we studied the influence of proximity to plover nests on predation risk of artificial nests on Igloolik Island (Nunavut, Canada) in July 2014. We predicted that the predation risk of artificial nests increases and decreases with the distance to and the density of plover nests, respectively. We monitored 18 plover nests and set 35 artificial nests at 30, 50, 100, 200 and 500 m from seven of those plover nests. Surprisingly, we showed that predation risk of artificial nests increases with the density of active plover nests. We also found a significant negative effect of the distance to the nearest active protector nest on predation risk of artificial nests. Understanding how the composition and structure of shorebird communities generate spatial patterns in predation risks represent a key step to better understand the importance of these species of conservation concern in tundra food webs.
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Dataset to estimate the effect of American Golden Plover nests on predation rates on artificial shorebird nests
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