Landscape Ecology

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 131–143 | Cite as

Effects of landscape structure on nest predation in roadsides of a midwestern agroecosystem: a multiscale analysis

  • Timothy M. Bergin
  • Louis B. Best
  • Kathryn E. Freemark
  • Kenneth J. Koehler


Nest predation is an important cause of mortality for many bird species, especially in grassland ecosystems where generalist predators have responded positively to human disturbance and landscape fragmentation. Our study evaluated the influence of the composition and configuration of the surrounding landscape on nest predation. Transects consisting of 10 artificial ground nests each were set up in 136 roadsides in six watersheds in south-central Iowa. Nest predation on individual roadside transects ranged from 0 to 100% and averaged 23%. The relationship of landscape structure within spatially-nested landscapes surrounding each roadside transect (within 200, 400, 800, 1200, and 1600 m of the transect line) to nest predation was evaluated by using multiple regression and canonical correlation analyses. The results of this multiscale landscape analysis demonstrated that predation on ground nests was affected by the surrounding landscape mosaic and that nest predators with different-sized home ranges and habitat affinities responded to landscapes in different ways. In general, wooded habitats were associated with greater nest predation, whereas herbaceous habitats (except alfalfa/pasture) either were associated with less nest predation or were not important. Different landscape variables were important at different spatial scales. Whereas some block-cover habitats such as woodland were important at all scales, others such as rowcrops and alfalfa/pasture were important at large scales. Some strip-cover habitats such as gravel roads and paved roads were important at small scales, but others such as wooded roadsides were important at all all scales. Most landscape metrics (e.g., mean patch size and edge density) were important at large scales. Our study demonstrated that the relationships between landscape structure and predator assemblages are complex, thus making efforts to enhance avian productivity in agricultural landscapes a difficult management goal.

Agricultural landscapes artificial nests landscape structure multiscale analysis nest predation roadsides spatial scale 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy M. Bergin
    • 1
  • Louis B. Best
    • 1
  • Kathryn E. Freemark
    • 2
  • Kenneth J. Koehler
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Animal EcologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Environment CanadaNational Wildlife Research CentreHullCanada
  3. 3.Department of StatisticsIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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