Protective association and breeding advantages of choughs nesting in lesser kestrel colonies

Estación Biológica de Doñana (C.S.I.C.), Sevilla
Animal Behaviour (Impact Factor: 3.14). 09/1997; 54(2):335-342. DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1996.0465
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Some bird species may breed close to aggressive predators to reduce predation risk by more dangerous, generalist predators. We tested this protective nesting association hypothesis by studying solitary choughs,Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocoraxbreeding within or outside lesser kestrel,Falco naumannicolonies in northern Spain (1993–1994). We found 27 potential predators of choughs and kestrels and confirmed predation on adults and nests of both species by at least eight common predators. We experimentally assessed the defence investment of choughs and kestrels towards a stuffed eagle owl,Bubo buboin 19 buildings shared by both species. Lesser kestrels were more efficient at detecting the predator, and defended more vigorously than choughs. Choughs clearly selected for breeding buildings where lesser kestrel colonies were installed. Breeding success of these choughs was much higher than that of choughs breeding alone, because of a lower percentage of nest failure. Benefits to choughs probably accrued from both the ‘parasitism’ of the kestrels' nest defence and the dilution of predation risk in the colonies. Since lesser kestrels do not prey on choughs, this could be a good example of protective nesting association in birds.

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Available from: José L Tella, Sep 27, 2015
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    • "Three bird species (common blackbird Turdus merula, spotless starling Sturnus unicolor and collared dove Streptopelia decaocto) breeding in the proximity of rose-ringed parakeets joined the parakeets in chasing the rats in four cases. Together , these observations suggest that species benefit from other species' aggressiveness toward predators (e.g., Blanco and Tella, 1997), "
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    ABSTRACT: The rose-ring parakeet (Psittacula krameri) is one of the most successful invasive birds in its establishment worldwide. Studies addressing its potential impact on native biota mostly focus on birds and little is known about how these and other parakeet species interact with native mammals. Here, we report 21 aggressions of rose-ringed parakeets towards black rats (Rattus rattus) in urban parks in Seville (Southern Spain) and Tenerife (Canary Islands). Either solitary parakeets or, more often, groups of up to 18 attacked rats when they climbed trees close to parakeet nests. Most attacks ended when the rats descended to the ground. However, in two instances (9.5 % of the aggressions) the attacks resulted in the death of the rats as a result of falling to the pavement. These observations add further complexity to a biological invasion, where introduced parakeets have negative impacts on a predator and thus, some native bird species may benefit from their antipredator behavior. More attention should be paid to the interactions between native mammals and the non-native parakeets introduced worldwide.
    Hystrix 12/2014; 25(2):121-123. DOI:10.4404/hystrix-25.2-10992 · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    • "Illustratively , breeding choughs (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) associate with lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni) and benefit through the kestrels being very vigilant for, and aggressive toward, potential nest predators. As the kestrels do not prey upon the choughs, then the association is entirely beneficial for the choughs as they suffer significantly fewer nest predation events and consequently have higher levels of breeding success when compared to conspecifics breeding without an association to the kestrels (Blanco and Tella 1997). However, not all associations may be so advantageous, and in other instances, the protective species can sometimes also prey upon the protected species (Caro 2005), which means that there may be an optimal nesting distance between them. "
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    ABSTRACT: All birds construct nests in which to lay eggs and/or raise offspring. Traditionally, it was thought that natural selection and the requirement to minimize the risk of predation determined the design of completed nests. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that sexual selection also influences nest design. This is an important development as while species such as bowerbirds build structures that are extended phenotypic signals whose sole purpose is to attract a mate, nests contain eggs and/or offspring, thereby suggesting a direct tradeoff between the conflicting requirements of natural and sexual selection. Nest design also varies adaptively in order to both minimize the detrimental effects of parasites and to create a suitable microclimate for parents and developing offspring in relation to predictable variation in environmental conditions. Our understanding of the design and function of birds’ nests has increased considerably in recent years, and the evidence suggests that nests have four nonmutually exclusive functions. Consequently, we conclude that the design of birds’ nests is far more sophisticated than previously realized and that nests are multifunctional structures that have important fitness consequences for the builder/s.
    Ecology and Evolution 10/2014; 4(20). DOI:10.1002/ece3.1054 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    • "High nest-site fidelity can have important implications in the management and conservation of choughs in the study area and other regions where they nest in buildings and other artefacts susceptible to transformation or removal (Bignal & Bignal 1987, Blanco et al. 1997). For example, the destruction of multiple buildings used as nesting sites as consequence of farming operations for the implementation of irrigated crops in the study area (Blanco et al. 1997, Banda & Blanco 2009) may be increasing the isolation of the remaining pairs, because high site fidelity may lead to a reduced ability to resettle in adjacent geographical areas. This can further contribute to the increasing isolation of the subpopulations in the study area and even to the isolation of small groups of breeding pairs (Banda & Blanco 2009). "
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