Does acoustically simulated predation risk affect settlement and reproduction of a migratory passerine?

Stelbrink, Pablo; Grendelmeier, Alex; Schabo, Dana; Arlettaz, Raphaël (2019). Does acoustically simulated predation risk affect settlement and reproduction of a migratory passerine? Ethology, 125(8), pp. 535-547. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/eth.12879

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Nest predation is one of the most important drivers of avian life history evolution and population dynamics. Increasing evidence suggests that birds are able to assess nest predation risk and avoid settling in high‐risk areas to increase their reproductive performance. However, the cues used for settlement decisions are poorly known in most species. Population sizes of the migratory wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix are characterized by strong annual fluctuations, which are negatively correlated with the number of forest rodents. Wood warblers might avoid rodent‐rich areas to reduce predation risk arising either from rodents, from rodent‐hunting predators attracted to such areas or from predators not linked to rodents. To evaluate these hypotheses, we conducted a large‐scale field experiment to test whether wood warblers avoided settling in plots with high predation risk simulated by broadcasting vocalizations of rodents or predators. Moreover, we tested whether reproductive performance varied in relation to simulated predation risk. Settlement patterns did not differ between plots with rodent, predator and noise control treatments. Likewise, measures of reproductive
performance did not seem to differ across treatments. Thus, the broadcasted
vocalizations of rodents and predators did not seem to be perceived as threat
by wood warblers. Alternatively, the species might use other cues than those presented here, either other acoustic cues, visual and/or olfactory cues or a combination of cue types during settlement. Further experimental investigations to pin point cues and senses relevant for settlement decisions in wood warblers and birds in general are needed to better understand their life history and population dynamics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Arlettaz, Raphaël


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)








Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

08 Apr 2020 09:09

Last Modified:

08 Apr 2020 09:09

Publisher DOI:





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