Ecological Research

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 495–502 | Cite as

Does nest box use reduce the fitness of a tree-cavity dependent mammal?

Original Article

Abstract

Nest boxes are frequently used in conservation programs for tree-cavity dependent wildlife. There is growing concern that the poor insulation properties of nest boxes may produce an ecological trap, because species may require microclimates less extreme or less variable than those experienced inside nest boxes. I investigated the fitness consequences of nest box use in a non-flying mammal. Fifty-two of 104 squirrel gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) trapped over a 3-year period used nest boxes. Population modelling of the capture data revealed that the probability of apparent survival increased with increasing nest box use. There was no difference in breeding frequency between females that used or did not use nest boxes. There was no evidence that offspring development was hindered within nest boxes. These findings may arise because: (1) gliders could access tree hollows during extreme temperatures, (2) ambient temperatures were mild during the study, (3) gliders construct leaf nests which insulate against low temperatures in winter, and (4) gliders breed between autumn and spring when temperatures are relatively benign. The estimate of annual survival of animals using nest boxes (0.60), was equivalent to estimates at locations where squirrel gliders were either reliant on nest boxes (0.54) or on tree cavities (0.55) for shelter. Studies such as this need to be conducted on a range of species across a range of locations to better understand the influence of nest box use on non-flying mammals.

Keywords

Squirrel glider Petaurus norfolcensis Tree hollow Habitat restoration 

References

  1. Altwegg R, Jenkins A, Abadi F (2014) Nestboxes and immigration drive the growth of an urban peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus population. Ibis 156:107–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ardia DR, Perez JH, Chad EK, Voss MA, Clotfelter ED (2009) Temperature and life history: experimental heating leads female tree swallows to modulate egg temperature and incubation behavior. J Anim Ecol 78:4–13CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Ardia DR, Perez JH, Clotfelter ED (2010) Experimental cooling during incubation leads to reduced innate immunity and body condition in nestling tree swallow. Proc R Soc B 277:1881–1888CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer GL, Goldingay RL (2006) The value of nest boxes in the research and management of Australian hollow-using arboreal marsupials. Wildl Res 33:161–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beyer GL, Goldingay RL, Sharpe DJ (2008) The characteristics of squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) den trees in subtropical Australia. Aust J Zool 56:13–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brazill-Boast J, Pryke SR, Griffith SC (2013) Provisioning habitat with custom-designed nest-boxes increases reproductive success in an endangered finch. Aust Ecol 38:405–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bunnell FL (2013) Sustaining cavity-using species: patterns of cavity use and implications to forest management. ISRN Forestry. doi:10.1155/2013/457698 Google Scholar
  8. Burgess M (2014) Restoring abandoned coppice for birds: few effects of conservation management on occupancy, fecundity and productivity of hole nesting birds. For Ecol Manage 330:205–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2004) Multimodel inference: understanding AIC and BIC in model selection. Sociol Method Res 33:261–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butler MW, Whitman BA, Dufty AM (2009) Nest box temperature and hatching success of American kestrels varies with nest box orientation. Wilson J Ornithol 121:778–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catry I, Alcazar R, Franco AMA, Sutherland WJ (2009) Identifying the effectiveness and constraints of conservation interventions: a case study of the endangered lesser kestrel. Biol Conserv 142:2782–2791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Catry I, Franco AMA, Sutherland WJ (2011) Adapting conservation efforts to face climate change: modifying nest-site provisioning for lesser kestrels. Biol Conserv 144:1111–1119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corrigan RM, Scrimgeour GJ, Paszkowski C (2011) Nest boxes facilitate local-scale conservation of common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) in Alberta, Canada. Avian Conserv Ecol 6:1Google Scholar
  14. Crane M, Lindenmayer DB, Banks SC (2017) Conserving and restoring endangered southern populations of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in agricultural landscapes. Ecol Manage Restor 18:15–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cunningham SJ, Martin RO, Hojem CL, Hockey PAR (2013) Temperatures in excess of critical thresholds threaten nestling growth and survival in a rapidly-warming arid savanna: a study of common fiscals. PLoS One 8(9):e74613CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Czeszczewik D (2004) Breeding success and timing of the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca nesting in natural holes and nest-boxes in the Białowieża Forest, Poland. Acta Ornithol 39:15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis JB, Straub JN, Wang G, Kaminski RM, Leopold BD (2015) Simulations of wood duck recruitment from nest boxes in Mississippi and Alabama. J Wildl Manage 79:907–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dawson RD, Lawrie CC, O’Brien EL (2005) The importance of microclimate variation in determining size, growth and survival of avian offspring: experimental evidence from a cavity nesting passerine. Oecologia 144:499–507CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Demeyrier V, Lambrechts MM, Perret P, Arnaud Grégoire A (2016) Experimental demonstration of an ecological trap for a wild bird in a human-transformed environment. Anim Behav 118:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Durant R, Luck GW, Matthews A (2009) Nest-box use by arboreal mammals in a peri-urban landscape. Wildl Res 36:565–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Edworthy AB, Martin K (2013) Persistence of tree cavities used by cavity-nesting vertebrates declines in harvested forests. J Wildl Manage 77:770–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ellis MV (2016) Influence of design on the microclimate in nest boxes exposed to direct sunshine. Aust Zool 38:95–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Evans MR, Lank DB, Boyd WS, Cooke F (2002) A comparison of the characteristics and fate of Barrow’s goldeneye and bufflehead nests in nest boxes and natural cavities. Condor 104:610–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fargallo JA, Blanco G, Potti J, Viñuela J (2001) Nestbox provisioning in a rural population of Eurasian kestrels: breeding performance, nest predation and parasitism. Bird Study 48:236–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fischer J, Zerger A, Gibbons P, Stott J, Law BS (2010) Tree decline and the future of Australian farmland biodiversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:19597–19602CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Garnett ST, Pedler LP, Crowley GM (1999) The breeding biology of the glossy black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Emu 99:262–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gibbons P, Lindenmayer D (2002) Tree hollows and wildlife conservation in Australia. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  28. Gibbons P, Lindenmayer DB, Barry SC, Tanton MT (2002) Hollow selection by vertebrate fauna in forests of southeastern Australia and implications for forest management. Biol Conserv 103:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gibbons P, Cunningham RB, Lindenmayer DB (2008) What factors influence the collapse of trees retained on logged sites? A case-control study. For Ecol Manage 255:62–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goldingay RL (2010) Direct male parental care observed in wild sugar gliders. Aust Mammal 32:177–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goldingay RL (2011) Characteristics of tree hollows used by Australian arboreal and scansorial mammals. Aust J Zool 59:277–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Goldingay RL (2015) Temperature variation in nest boxes in eastern Australia. Aust Mammal 37:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goldingay RL, Rueegger NN, Grimson MJ, Taylor BD (2015) Specific nest box designs can improve habitat restoration for cavity-dependent arboreal mammals. Restor Ecol 23:482–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Habel JC, Braun J, Fischer C, Weisser WW, Gossner MM (2015) Population restoration of the nocturnal bird Athene noctua in Western Europe: an example of evidence based species conservation. Biodivers Conserv 24:1743–1753CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Harley DKP (2004) Patterns of nest box use by Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri): applications to research and conservation. In: Goldingay R, Jackson S (eds) The biology of Australian possums and gliders. Surrey Beatty, Sydney, pp 318–329Google Scholar
  36. Harper MJ, McCarthy MA, van der Ree R (2005) The abundance of hollow-bearing trees in urban dry sclerophyll forest and the effect of wind on hollow development. Biol Conserv 122:181–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hipkiss T, Gustafsson J, Eklund U, Hörnfeldt B (2013) Is the long-term decline of boreal owls in Sweden caused by avoidance of old boxes? J Raptor Res 47:15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Inions GB, Tanton MT, Davey SM (1989) Effect of fire on the availability of hollows in trees used by the common brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr, 1792, and the ringtail possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus Boddaerts, 1785. Wildl Res 16:449–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Isaac JL, Parsons M, Goodman BA (2008) How hot do nest boxes get in the tropics? A study of nest boxes for the endangered mahogany glider. Wildl Res 35:441–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jackson JA, Jackson BJS (2004) Ecological relationships between fungi and woodpecker cavity sites. Condor 106:37–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Katzner T, Robertson S, Robertson B, Klucsarits J, McCarty K, Bildstein KL (2005) Results from a long-term nest-box program for American kestrels: implications for improved population monitoring and conservation. J Field Ornithol 76:217–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Korpimäki E (1984) Clutch size and breeding success of Tengmalm’s Owl Aegolius funereus in natural cavities and nest-boxes. Ornis Fennica 61:80–83Google Scholar
  43. Kunz TH, Lumsden LF (2003) Ecology of cavity and foliage roosting bats. In: Eds Kunz TH, Fenton MB (eds) ‘Bat Ecology’. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 3–89Google Scholar
  44. Larson ER, Eastwood JR, Buchanan KL, Bennett ATD, Berg ML (2015) How does nest box temperature affect nestling growth rate and breeding success in a parrot? Emu 115:247–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Libois E, Gimenez O, Oro D, Mínguez E, Pradel R, Sanz-Aguilar A (2012) Nest boxes: a successful management tool for the conservation of an endangered seabird. Biol Conserv 155:39–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lindenmayer DB, Blanchard W, McBurney L, Blair D, Banks S et al (2012) Interacting factors driving a major loss of large trees with cavities in a forest ecosystem. PLoS One 7(10):e41864CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Lindenmayer D, Crane M, Blanchard W, Okada S, Montague-Drake R (2016) Do nest boxes in restored woodlands promote the conservation of hollow-dependent fauna? Restor Ecol 24:244–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lindenmayer DB, Mortelliti A, Ikin K, Pierson J, Crane M, Michael D, Okada S (2017) The vacant planting: limited influence of habitat restoration on patch colonization patterns by arboreal marsupials in south-eastern Australia. Anim Conserv (in press) Google Scholar
  49. Llambías PE, Fernández GJ (2009) Effects of nestboxes on the breeding biology of southern house wrens Troglodytes aedon bonariae in the southern temperate zone. Ibis 151:113–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mackowski CM (1984) The ontogeny of hollows in blackbutt, Eucalyptus pilularis, and its relevance to the management of forests for possums, gliders and timber. In: Smith AP, Hume ID (eds) ‘Possums and Gliders’. Australian Mammal Society, Sydney, pp 517–525Google Scholar
  51. Maziarz M, Broughton RK, Wesołowski T (2017) Microclimate in tree cavities and nest-boxes: implications for hole-nesting birds. For Ecol Manage 389:306–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. McLean CM, Bradstock R, Price O, Kavanagh RP (2015) Tree hollows and forest stand structure in Australian warm temperate Eucalyptus forests are adversely affected by logging more than wildfire. For Ecol Manage 341:37–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Miller KE (2002) Nesting success of the great crested flycatcher in nest boxes and in tree cavities: are nest boxes safer from nest predation? Wilson Bull 114:179–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mills AJ, van der Vyver M, Gordon IJ, Patwardhan A, Marais C, Blignaut J, Sigwela A, Kgope B (2015) Prescribing innovation within a large-scale restoration programme in degraded subtropical thicket in South Africa. Forests 6:4328–4348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mitrus C (2003) A comparison of the breeding ecology of collared flycatchers nesting in boxes and natural cavities. J Field Ornithol 74:293–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Newton I (1994) The role of nest sites in limiting the numbers of hole-nesting birds: a review. Biol Conserv 70:265–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nowack J, Geiser F (2016) Friends with benefits: the role of huddling in mixed groups of torpid and normothermic animals. J Exp Biol 219:590–596CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. O’Connell C, Keppel G (2016) Deep tree hollows: important refuges from extreme temperatures. Wildl Biol 22:305–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Olah G, Vigo G, Heinsohn R, Brightsmith DJ (2014) Nest site selection and efficacy of artificial nests for breeding success of scarlet macaws Ara macao macao in lowland Peru. J Nat Conserv 22:176–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pipoly I, Bókony V, Seress G, Szabó K, Liker A (2013) Effects of extreme weather on reproductive success in a temperate-breeding songbird. PLoS One 8(11):e80033CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  61. Poonswad P (1995) Nest site characteristics of four sympatric species of hornbills in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. Ibis 137:183–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Purcell K, Verner J, Oring LW (1997) A comparison of the breeding ecology of birds nesting in boxes and tree cavities. Auk 114:646–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Quin DG (1995) Population ecology of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) and the sugar glider (P. breviceps) (Marsupialia: Petauridae) at Limeburners Creek, on the central north coast of New South Wales. Wildl Res 22:471–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rahman ML, Purev-Ochir G, Etheridge M, Batbayar N, Dixon A (2014) The potential use of artificial nests for the management and sustainable utilization of saker falcons (Falco cherrug). J Ornithol 155:649–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Renton K, Brightsmith DJ (2009) Cavity use and reproductive success of nesting macaws in lowland forest of southeast Peru. J Field Ornith 80:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Robertson RJ, Rendell WB (1990) A comparison of the breeding ecology of a secondary cavity nesting bird, the tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), in nest boxes and natural cavities. Can J Zool 68:1046–1052CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Robertson RJ, Rendell WB (2001) A long-term study of reproductive performance in tree swallows: the influence of age and senescence on output. J Anim Ecol 70:1014–1031CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rodrigues RR, Gandolfi S, Nave AG, Aronson J, Barreto TE, Vidal CY, Brancalion PHS (2011) Large-scale ecological restoration of high diversity tropical forests in SE Brazil. For Ecol Manage 261:1605–1613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Salaberria C, Celis P, López-Rull I, Gil D (2014) Effects of temperature and nest heat exposure on nestling growth, dehydration and survival in a Mediterranean hole-nesting passerine. Ibis 156:265–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Schölin KG, Källander H (2011) A 64-year study of a pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca population. Ornis Svecica 21:79–91Google Scholar
  71. Sedgeley JA (2001) Quality of cavity microclimate as a factor influencing selection of maternity roosts by a tree-dwelling bat, Chalinolobus tuberculatus, in New Zealand. J Appl Ecol 38:425–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sharpe DJ, Goldingay RL (2010) Population ecology of the nectar-feeding squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in remnant forest in subtropical Australia. Wildl Res 37:77–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shutler D, Hussell DJT, Norris DR, Winkler DW, Robertson RJ, Bonier F, Rendell WB, Bélisle M, Clark RG, Dawson RD, Wheelwright NT, Lombardo MP, Thorpe PA, Truan MA, Walsh R, Leonard ML, Horn AG, Vleck CM, Vleck D, Rose AP, Whittingham LA, Dunn PO, Hobson KA, Stanback MT (2012) Spatiotemporal patterns in nest box occupancy by tree swallows across North America. Avian Conserv Ecol 7(1):3Google Scholar
  74. Singh A, Bhatt D, Sethi VK, Dadwal N (2016) Nesting success of the oriental magpie robin Copsychus saularis in nest boxes and tree cavities. Wildl Biol 22:277–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Smith MJ (1979) Observations on growth of Petaurus breviceps and P. norfolcensis (Petauridae: Marsupialia) in captivity. Aust Wildl Res 6:141–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Smith CY, Warkentin IG, Moroni MT (2008) Snag availability for cavity nesters across a chronosequence of post-harvest landscapes in western Newfoundland. For Ecol Manage 256:641–647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Soanes K (2014) Evaluating the success of road-crossing mitigation for arboreal mammals: How does monitoring effort influence the detection of population-level effects? PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  78. Stamp RK, Brunton DH, Walter B (2002) Artificial nest box use by the North Island saddleback: effects of nest box design and mite infestations on nest site selection and reproductive success. New Zeal J Zool 29:285–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Stojanovic D, Webb nee Voogdt J, Webb M, Cook H, Heinsohn R (2016) Loss of habitat for a secondary cavity nesting bird after wildfire. For Ecol Manage 360:235–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Tomasevic JA, Marzluff JM (2016) Cavity nesting birds along an urban-wildland gradient: is human facilitation structuring the bird community? Urban Ecosyst. doi:10.1007/s11252-016-0605-6 Google Scholar
  81. van der Ree R (2002) The population ecology of the squirrel glider, Petaurus norfolcensis, within a network of remnant linear habitats. Wildl Res 29:329–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. van der Ree R, Harper MJ, Crane M (2006) Longevity in wild populations of the squirrel glider Petaurus norfolcensis. Aust Mammal 28:239–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Vaughan C, Nemeth NM, Cary J, Temple S (2005) Response of a scarlet macaw Ara macao population to conservation practices in Costa Rica. Bird Conserv Int 15:119–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Veĺký M, Kaňuch P, Krištín A (2010) Selection of winter roosts in the great tit Parus major: influence of microclimate. J Ornithol 151:147–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Vesk PA, Nolan R, Thomson JR, Dorrough JW, Mac Nally R (2008) Time lags in provision of habitat resources through revegetation. Biol Conserv 141:174–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Warakai D, Okena DS, Igag P, Opiang M, Mack AL (2013) Tree cavity-using wildlife and the potential of artificial nest boxes for wildlife management in New Guinea. Trop Conserv Sci 6:711–733CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Wesołowski T (1989) Nest-sites of hole-nesters in a primaeval temperate forest (Białowieza National Park, Poland). Acta Ornithol 25:321–351Google Scholar
  88. White GC, Burnham KP (1999) Program MARK: survival estimation from populations of marked animals. Bird Study 46(Suppl):S120–S139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. White TH, Abreu-González W, Toledo-González M, Torres-Báez P (2005) From the field: artificial nest cavities for Amazona parrots. Wildl Soc Bull 33:756–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Whitford KR (2002) Hollows in jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) and marri (Corymbia calophylla) trees I. Hollow sizes, tree attributes and ages. For Ecol Manage 160:201–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Wormington KR, Lamb D, McCallum HI, Moloney DJ (2003) The characteristics of six species of living hollow-bearing trees and their importance for arboreal marsupials in the dry sclerophyll forests of southeast Queensland, Australia. For Ecol Manage 182:75–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Yamaguchi N, Kawano KM, Yamaguchi Y, Saito T (2005) Small protection plates against marten predation on nest boxes. Appl Entomol Zool 40:575–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Zawadzka D, Drozdowski S, Zawadzki G, Zawadzki J (2016) The availability of cavity trees along an age gradient in fresh pine forests. Silva Fennica 50(3). doi:10.14214/sf.1441 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EnvironmentScience and Engineering, Southern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

Personalised recommendations