Temporal variation in nest predation risk along habitat edges between grassland and secondary forest in Central Europe
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- Svobodová, J., Koubová, M., Mrštný, L. et al. Eur J Wildl Res (2012) 58: 315. doi:10.1007/s10344-011-0582-2
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Habitat fragmentation alters many ecological processes, including trophic cascades. For example, increased predation pressure along habitat edges has often been observed in fragmented landscapes. Here, we studied how nest predation risk varies along the transition zone between grassland and mixed forest in Central Europe. Using artificial nests, we tested the two mechanisms that are expected to underlie higher predation rates along edges: (1) the matrix effect model that supposes predator penetration from a habitat type with higher predator density to one with lower predator density and (2) the ecotonal effect model that assumes specific predator preferences for habitat edges. Although our results do not fully support either of these scenarios, our data show high temporal instability in nest predation along forest–grassland edges. Predation was higher in habitat interiors compared to edges during the first year, whereas the opposite pattern was observed during the subsequent year. In addition, dramatic between-year differences in the species composition of nest predators were observed. Therefore, we hypothesise that the effect of edges on nest predation is difficult to predict in landscapes with high predator diversity. In addition, our data indicate that a high abundance of wild boar considerably increases the risk of predation for ground-nesting birds.