Melea Langley, A Study of Avian Nest Predation at Audubon Acres in Chattanooga, TN
Faculty Chair: Dr. David Aborn
Predation is believed to be the primary cause of nesting mortality among North American migratory land birds. High rates of nest predation can jeopardize avian reproductive biology by affecting life histories and habitat selections. Artificial nests are commonly used to study nest predation because they allow the researcher to investigate comparative treatments and their impacts on predation. Relative nest predation was studied at Audubon Acres in Chattanooga, TN using artificial nests. The study investigated differences in habitat types, nest heights, egg types, and predation types. Overall, there were 40 nesting sites, 160 nests, and 320 eggs subjected to nest predation. Predation was measured and analyzed using a chi-square goodness-of-fit test. The results of this study showed very high levels of nest predation across each of the study variables; urbanization and forest fragmentation were believed to be the most likely contributors to nest predation. Based on theses results, high rates of predation will occur at Audubon Acres no matter the study design. The high level of predation risk at Audubon Acres does not present a positive outlook for breeding success of resident and migratory birds. Additional studies are warranted to better understand factors contributing to nest predation and the subsequent impact of predation on avian reproductive success and conservation.