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Sea-level rise: Predation to affect seaside sparrows more than flooding

Cara J

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When Elizabeth Hunter was doing her dissertation at the University of Georgia on the effects of sea-level rise on coastal birds, including seaside sparrows (Ammodramus maritimus), she noticed a lot more nests were getting depredated by predators than flooded by tides. Predation and tidal flooding are the two primary threats to seaside sparrow nest success. In discussing her observations, Hunter, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nevada-Reno, said: “Sea-level rise for most coastal birds was a big issue. There was a lot more concern in this context compared with the other issue of predation. I wanted to see what was the greater threat.” She further explained, that when dealing with the two threats, seaside sparrows have the option of nesting lower in the vegetation to avoid predators or higher in the vegetation to avoid flooding. This nest height selection behavior makes the birds more resilient to the increased flood risk associated with sea-level rise, but as Hunter hypothesized, could create a trade-off that results in increased nest failure from predation. To test her hypothesis, Hunter used baseline probabilities of predation and flooding from empirical data she and her colleagues collected as part of her dissertation on [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/sea-level-rise-predation-to-affect-seaside-sparrows-more-than-flooding/

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