Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 493–506 | Cite as

Nest predation and the influence of habitat structure on nest predation of Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix, a ground-nesting forest passerine

  • Paul E. Bellamy
  • Malcolm D. Burgess
  • John W. Mallord
  • Andrew Cristinacce
  • Christopher J. Orsman
  • Tony Davis
  • Philip V. Grice
  • Elisabeth C. Charman
Original Article


Increasing rates of nest predation is one of several hypotheses proposed to explain observed declines of Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix populations in the UK. Nest predation may be influenced by how nest concealment is affected by vegetation structure, which may vary between breeding sites. Detailed nest monitoring within three study areas with varying population trends identified the main nest predators and predation as the main cause of nest failure. Comparison of habitat structure surrounding nests with non-nest locations within territories showed that nests were placed on steeper slopes, in areas with a taller canopy, intermediate understorey density, greater cover of bramble and intermediate cover of tall field layer vegetation. Predation rates were related to field layer structure with lower predation rates associated with greater cover of medium-height vegetation. However, the size of the effect of vegetation on predation rates was small, and vegetation management is unlikely to have a strong impact on predation rates except in extreme cases of very low ground cover.


Mayfield Nest concealment Vegetation structure Woodland birds Woods 


Nestraub und der Einfluss der Habitatstruktur auf die Nestprädation beim Waldlaubsänger Phylloscopus sibilatrix , einem bodenbrütenden Waldsingvogel

Ein Anstieg der Nestprädationsraten ist eine von mehreren Hypothesen, mit denen versucht wird, den zu beobachtenden Populationsrückgang beim Waldlaubsänger Phylloscopus sibilatrix im Vereinigten Königreich zu erklären. Die Nestprädation kann dadurch beeinflusst werden, inwieweit die Vegetationsstruktur, welche sich von Neststandort zu Neststandort unterscheidet, Auswirkungen auf die Nesttarnung hat. Durch ausführliches Nestmonitoring in drei Untersuchungsgebieten mit verschiedenen Populationstrends konnten die primären Nestprädatoren ermittelt und Nestraub als die Hauptursache für Brutverluste ausgemacht werden. Durch den Vergleich der Habitatstruktur in Nestumgebung mit der an Stellen ohne Nester innerhalb der Reviere zeigte sich, dass sich Nester an steileren Hängen befanden, in Gegenden mit höherem Kronendach, mittlerer Unterwuchsdichte, stärkerem Bewuchs mit Brombeere und einem mittleren Bedeckungsgrad durch hohe krautige Vegetation. Die Prädationsraten waren von der Krautschicht abhängig, insofern als niedrigere Prädationsraten in Verbindung mit einem stärkeren Bewuchs durch Pflanzen mittlerer Höhe auftraten. Allerdings war das Ausmaß des Vegetationseinflusses auf die Prädation nur schwach, und das Vegetationsmanagement wird außer in extremen Fällen mit sehr geringer Bodenbedeckung kaum eine starke Auswirkung auf die Prädationsraten haben.



This work was funded by Natural England and RSPB under the Action for Birds in England partnership. We would like to thank the many landowners for access to study sites. Derek Gruar and Anna Riach contributed to field data collection in 2009, and Alice Tribe in 2012. All aspects of this study complied with UK law.

Data availability

The datasets analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Supplementary material

10336_2017_1527_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RSPB Centre for Conservation ScienceSandyUK
  2. 2.SouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Natural EnglandWorcesterUK
  4. 4.RSPBNewcastle-upon-TyneUK

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