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Predation of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus nests on lowland wet grassland in England and Wales: effects of nest density, habitat and predator abundance

Abstract

There is concern that predation of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus nests may create additional pressure on declining populations of this species in Europe. At seven sites in England and Wales, daily nest predation rates on 1,390 nests were related to variables using Generalised Linear Mixed Models. The strongest predictor was Lapwing nest density (number of nests within 100 m): predation rates declined as nest density increased. Since nocturnal species, probably mammals, have been identified as the major predators of Lapwing nests at these sites, these results suggest that Lapwings are able to deter mammalian predators or may settle to nest at high densities in areas with low predation pressure. At the site level, there was no relationship between Lapwing nesting density and fox density, and a positive relationship with Carrion Crow Corvus corone nesting density. There was a weaker effect of distance to field boundary: nests closer to boundaries were more likely to be predated. Weak interactive effects between crow density and both nest visibility and distance to vantage point were identified in models using a reduced subset of nests. These were counter-intuitive, did not persist in the larger data set, and do not have obvious explanations. If Lapwings nesting at high density are able to deter predators, there are implications for land management. Smaller areas could be managed within potential breeding habitat to encourage Lapwings to nest in dense colonies. Selection of larger fields for such management, where nests could be located far from the field boundary should improve the value of such measures.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the many reserve staff and research assistants for collection of data on nest survival and predator densities. We are grateful to landowners and CCW for access permission to sites that were not RSPB reserves. Steven Ewing assisted with the data preparation. Paul Britten gave GIS support, and Stijn Bierman (BIOSS) gave statistical support. We thank Defra for funding the data analysis, under contract no. C03043, and for comments by Richard Stillman, Sarah Durell, Andy West and Richard Caldow. We thank a reviewer for comments that have improved this manuscript. All work carried out for this study complies with the current laws of the United Kingdom.

Author information

Correspondence to Michael A. MacDonald.

Additional information

Communicated by F. Bairlein.

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MacDonald, M.A., Bolton, M. Predation of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus nests on lowland wet grassland in England and Wales: effects of nest density, habitat and predator abundance. J Ornithol 149, 555 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-008-0303-0

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Keywords

  • Lapwing
  • Nest predation
  • Wet grassland
  • Field boundary
  • Nest density