Edge effect and matrix influence on the nest survival of an old forest specialist, the Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
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- Poulin, JF. & Villard, MA. Landscape Ecol (2011) 26: 911. doi:10.1007/s10980-011-9615-1
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Conservation strategies should be based on a solid understanding of processes underlying species response to landscape change. In forests fragmented by agriculture, elevated nest predation rates have been reported in many forest bird species, especially near edges. In intensively-managed forest landscapes, timber harvesting might also be associated with negative edge effects or broader “context” effects on some species when the matrix provides additional resources to their major nest predators. In this study, we hypothesized that proximity to a forest edge and proportion of cone-producing plantations will increase nest predation risk in fragments of relatively undisturbed forest. We focused on the Brown Creeper (Certhia americana), an indicator species of late-seral forests. We compared habitat configuration and composition at four spatial scales (0.14, 0.5, 1 and 2 km) around 54 nests and related daily nest survival rate to the distance to the nearest forest edge, mean patch size of late-seral forest (r = 141 m), proportion of non-forested lands (r = 141 m), density of maintained roads (r = 1 km), proportion of cone-producing spruce plantations (r = 2 km), and year. The best model included distance to the nearest edge and proportion of cone-producing plantations. Distance of nests to the nearest edge was the best individual predictor of daily nest survival. A larger sample of nests showed a significant threshold in distance to the nearest forest edge; nests located at least 100 m away were more likely to fledge young. These results suggest that even in managed forest landscapes, matrix effects can be important and some bird species may exhibit negative edge effects.