Competition, predation and nest niche shifts among tropical cavity nesters: ecological evidence
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I studied cavity-nesting birds in an undisturbed site in lowland Peru to determine the relative roles of competition and predation in favoring termitarium nesting over tree cavity nesting. Occupancy rates of both nest boxes and natural tree cavities near 2% suggest that competition for tree cavities is not favoring the use of termitaria. Artificial nests and bird nests in termitaria suffer significantly lower predation rates than similar nests in old tree cavities showing that predation is favoring the use of termitaria over old tree cavities. Bird nests in newly excavated tree cavities also show lower predation rates than older cavities suggesting that cavity age is more important than substrate (tree or termitaria) per se. This study suggests that nest predation has a greater influence than nest competition on life history evolution for many cavity-nesting birds.
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