, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 37–50 | Cite as

Ecological and social effects on reproduction and local recruitment in the red-backed shrike

  • Mathis Müller
  • Gilberto Pasinelli
  • Karin Schiegg
  • Reto Spaar
  • Lukas Jenni
Population Ecology


Numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain variation in reproductive performance and local recruitment of animals. While most studies have examined the influence of one or a few social and ecological factors on fitness traits, comprehensive analyses jointly testing the relative importance of each of many factors are rare. We investigated how a multitude of environmental and social conditions simultaneously affected reproductive performance and local recruitment of the red-backed shrike Lanius collurio (L.). Specifically, we tested hypotheses relating to timing of breeding, parental quality, nest predation, nest site selection, territory quality, intraspecific density and weather. Using model selection procedures, predictions of each hypothesis were first analysed separately, before a full model was constructed including variables selected in the single-hypothesis tests. From 1988 to 1992, 50% of 332 first clutches produced at least one fledgling, while 38.7% of 111 replacement clutches were successful. Timing of breeding, nest site selection, predation pressure, territory quality and intraspecific density influenced nest success in the single-hypothesis tests. The full model revealed that nest success was negatively associated with laying date, intraspecific density, and year, while nest success increased with nest concealment. Number of fledglings per successful nest was only influenced by nest concealment: better-camouflaged nests produced more fledglings. Probability of local recruitment was related to timing of breeding, parental quality and territory quality in the single-hypothesis tests. The full models confirmed the important role of territory quality for recruitment probability. Our results suggest that reproductive performance, and particularly nest success, of the red-backed shrike is primarily affected by timing of breeding, nest site selection, and intraspecific density. This study highlights the importance of considering many factors at the same time, when trying to evaluate their relative contributions to fitness and life history evolution.


Timing of breeding Nest site selection Intraspecific density Predation Territory quality 



We would like to thank P. Lustenberger and R. Pfüller for their help during data collection and Birdlife Switzerland, WWF Switzerland, Pro Natura Switzerland, Karl Mayer Foundation, Däniker Foundation and Zürcher Tierschutz for financial support.

Supplementary material

442_2004_1770_ESM_supp.pdf (15 kb)
(PDF 16 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathis Müller
    • 1
  • Gilberto Pasinelli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karin Schiegg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Reto Spaar
    • 1
  • Lukas Jenni
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Ornithological InstituteSempachSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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