European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 221–232 | Cite as

Prevalence of nest predators in a sub-Arctic ecosystem

  • Kristin B. Klausen
  • Åshild Ø. PedersenEmail author
  • N. G. Yoccoz
  • Rolf A. Ims
Original Paper


High nest loss is an important driver of gallinaceous bird population dynamics. Identifying factors determining the spatial distribution of potential nest predators and thereby indirectly risk of nest losses is therefore essential. The aim of this 1-year study was to estimate relative predation rates on artificial ground nests in willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) habitats, along replicate altitudinal gradients (transects, n = 60) spanning from sub-Arctic birch forest to the low-alpine tundra in three locations in northern Norway. In each transect, one artificial nest (track board) was placed in three different habitats: (1) birch forest, (2) edge between birch forest and low-alpine tundra and (3) low-alpine tundra. Total predation rates over all habitats within locations ranged from 47.4% to 77.5% and did not vary systematically in space and time. The average predation rate by avian predators was consistently high (58%), and mammalian predation rate was consistently low (5.6%). The consistently high level of predation inflicted by birds was mainly due to omnipresent corvids, especially the hooded crow (Corvus cornix). Analysis of species-specific predation rates showed that habitat and location effects were insignificant for all species, except for raven (Corvus corax) that showed clearly higher predation in one of the locations. The results indicate that from the perspective of the spatial distribution of potential nest predators in sub-Arctic birch forest, ground nesting birds like willow ptarmigan should not be expected to be selective with respect to nesting habitat in the ecotone between birch forest and the low-alpine tundra.


Artificial nest Corvids Habitat Predation Willow ptarmigan 



Funding for the study was provided by the Roald Amundsen centre for Arctic research at University of Tromsø, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the University of Tromsø. We are grateful to all field assistants and to Rolf Rødven, Raoul Primicerio, Jon Aars and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. The study complies with the current laws concerning wildlife research in Norway.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristin B. Klausen
    • 1
  • Åshild Ø. Pedersen
    • 2
    Email author
  • N. G. Yoccoz
    • 2
  • Rolf A. Ims
    • 2
  1. 1.Fylkesmannen i NordlandBodøNorway
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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