, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp 1077-1085

Tropical forest fragmentation and nest predation – an experimental study in an Eastern Arc montane forest, Tanzania

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Abstract

When a habitat becomes fragmented and surrounded by another habitat this generally causes an increase in predation pressure at habitat transitions, often referred to as an edge effect. Edge effect in the form of enhanced nest predation intensities is one of the most cited explanations for bird population declines in fragmented landscapes. Here, we report results from a nest predation experiment conducted in a tropical montane forest landscape in the Uzungwa Mts., Tanzania. Using artificial nests with chicken eggs, we determined predation rates across a fragmentation gradient. The proportion of indigenous forest in four landscapes used in the study were 0.29, 0.58, 0.75 to 1.0. Nest predation intensities on artificial nests were about 19% higher inside intact forest than at edges in fragmented forest landscapes. Furthermore, predation intensities were relatively constant across a forest fragmentation gradient. Our results thus challenge the applicability and generality of the edge effect, derived from studies almost exclusively conducted in temperate regions rather than tropical forest ecosystems. Nest predation levels differences between tropical montane forest and that reported in other forest ecosystems are discussed.