Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 223–236 | Cite as

Birds nesting survival in disturbed and protected Neotropical savannas

  • Fábio Júlio Alves Borges
  • Miguel Ângelo Marini
Original Paper


Fragmentation and other habitat disturbances are long known to negatively affect birds, in large part by decreasing nest success due to high nest predation rates. The factors, however, that cause this decrease in nest success are still poorly understood and may vary among regions or species. Here, we show that nest survival is also lower in a disturbed landscape versus a protected cerrado (savanna-like) Neotropical landscape. Also, we tested the importance of garbage in the nest, brood parasitism, microhabitat and bird family in nest survival, controlling for temporal effects. We monitored 144 birds’ nests in a disturbed landscape and 150 nests in a natural reserve of cerrado vegetation in central Brazil, between September and December 2006. We used Program MARK to estimate nest survival probabilities and evaluate the effect of covariates in nest success in the disturbed area. Nest daily survival rate (DSR) was higher in the reserve (survival probability = 29.4%) than in the disturbed landscape (survival probability = 16.6%). Nest daily survival rate (DSR) was smaller in nests with garbage (survival probability = 9.3%) than in nests without garbage (survival probability = 19.5%) in the disturbed landscape. Effects of habitat disturbance on nest survival differed among bird families, with finches and tanagers being more affected mostly due to high nest predation rates. Conservation and management of birds in disturbed landscapes should include actions to decrease nest predation. In poor rural or suburban areas in developing countries, such as Brazil, actions like better garbage treatment may help conserve birds in disturbed landscapes.


Cerrado Garbage Fragmentation Nest success Nest predation Brood parasitism Program MARK 



We would like to thank the administrators of ESECAE (GDF-DF) and the property owners of “Jardim Morumbi” for allowing the study in their properties. This study was partially funded by research grants from CNPq, FUNPE and Neotropical Grassland Conservancy. FJAB held a scholarship from CAPES and MÂM held a researcher fellowship from CNPq. We thank James Nichols for help with program MARK, and Drs. James Hoper, Juan Reboreda and Celine Melo for criticisms of the manuscript. Several graduate and undergraduate students helped with field work.


  1. Aleixo A, Vielliard JME (1995) Composição e dinâmica da avifauna da mata de Santa Genebra, Campinas, São Paulo, Brasil. Rev Bras Zool 12:493–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrade RD, Marini MÂ (2002) Bird species richness in natural forest patches in southeast Brazil. Lundiana 3:141–150Google Scholar
  3. Andrén H (1995) Effects of landscape composition on predation rates at habitat edges. In: Hansson L, Fahrig L, Merriam G (eds) Mosaic landscapes and ecological processes. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 225–255Google Scholar
  4. Bayne EM, Hobson KA (1997) Comparing the effects of landscape fragmentation by forestry and agriculture on predation of artificial nests. Conserv Biol 11:1418–1429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bêty J, Gauthier G, Korpimaki E, Giroux J (2002) Shared predators and indirect trophic interactions: lemming cycles and artctic-nesting geese. J Anim Ecol 71:88–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bright PW (2000) Lessons from lean beasts: conservation biology of the mustelids. Mammal Rev 30:217–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (1998) Model selection and inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Cavalcanti RB (1999) Bird species richness and conservation in the Cerrado region of Central Brazil. Study Avian Biol 19:244–249Google Scholar
  9. Cavalcanti RB, Pimentel TM (1988) Shiny cowbird parasitism in central Brazil. Condor 90:40–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chalfoun AD, Tatnaswamy MJ, Thompson FR (2002) Songbird nest predators in forest-pasture edge and forest interior in a fragmented landscape. Ecol Appl 12:858–867Google Scholar
  11. Cooch E, White GC (2007) Program MARK: a gentle introduction. Accessed 22 Aug 2007
  12. Courchamp F, Langlais M, Sujihara G (1999) Cats protecting birds: modeling the mesopredator release effect. J Anim Ecol 68:282–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. de la Peña MR (2006) Reproducción de las aves argentinas (con descripción de pichones). L.O.L.A, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  14. Dinsmore SJ, White GC, Knopf FL (2002) Advanced techniques for modeling avian nest survival. Ecology 83:3476–3488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donovan TM, Thompson FR III, Faaborg J, Probst JR (1995) Reproductive success of migratory birds in habitat sources and sinks. Conserv Biol 9:1380–1395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Duca CG (2007) Biologia e conservação de Neotrhaupis fasciata (Aves: Emberizidae) no Cerrado do Brasil Central. Ph.D. thesis. Universidade de Brasília, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  17. Duca CG, Gonçalves J, Marini MÂ (2001) Predação de ninhos artificiais em fragmentos de matas de Minas Gerais, Brasil. Ararajuba, Rev Bras Ornitol 9:113–117Google Scholar
  18. Duffy DC (1979) Human disturbance and breeding birds. Auk 96:815–816Google Scholar
  19. Eiten G (1993) Vegetação do Cerrado. In: Pinto MN (ed) Cerrado: caracterização, ocupação e perspectivas. Editora Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, pp 17–73Google Scholar
  20. Evans KL (2004) The potential for interactions between predation and habitat change to cause population declines of farmland birds. Ibis 146:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fauth PT (2000) Reproductive success of wood thrushes in forest fragments in northern Indiana. Auk 117:194–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. França LC, Marini MÂ (2009) Teste do efeito de borda na predação de ninhos naturais e artificiais no cerrado. Zoologia 26:241–250Google Scholar
  23. Friesen LE, Eagles PFJ, Mackay RJ (1995) Effects of residential development on forest dwelling neotropical migrant songbirds. Conserv Biol 9:1408–1414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fuller RJ, Gough SJ (1999) Changes in sheep numbers in Britain: implications for bird populations. Biol Conserv 91:73–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gates JE, Gysel LW (1978) Avian nest dispersion and fledging success in fieldforest ecotones. Ecology 59:871–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grant TA, Shaffer TL, Madden EM, Pietz PJ (2005) Time-specific variation in passerine nest survival: new insights into old questions. Auk 122:661–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hartwig E, Clements T, Heckroth M (2007) Plastic debris as nesting material in a kittiwake-(Rissa tridactyla)-colony at the Jammerbugt, northwest Denmark. Mar Pollut Bull 54:595–597CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Hazler KR, Amacher AJ, Lancia RA, Gerwin JA (2006) Factors influencing Acadian flycatcher nesting success in an intensively managed forest landscape. J Wildl Manag 70:532–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Herkert JR, Reinking DL, Wiedenfeld DA, Winter M, Zimmerman JL, Jensen WE, Finck EJ, Koford RR, Wolfe DH, Sherrod SK, Jenkins MA, Faaborg J, Robinson SK (2003) Effects of prairie fragmentation on the nest success of breeding birds in the Midcontinental United States. Conserv Biol 17:587–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hobson KA, Bayne E (2000) Effects of forest fragmentation by agriculture on avian communities in the southern boreal mixedwoods of western Canada. Wilson Bull 112:373–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hoover JP, Brittingham MC, Goodrich LJ (1995) Effects of forest patch size on nesting success of wood thrushes. Auk 112:146–155Google Scholar
  32. IBAMA—Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (2003) Lista das espécies da fauna ameaçada de extinção. Instrução Normativa n° 3, de 27 de maio de 2003. IBAMA e MMA, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  33. IUCN (2007) 2007 IUCN Red list of threatened species. Accessed 4 Jan 2008
  34. Jehle G, Adams AAY, Savidge JA, Skagen SK (2004) Nest survival estimation: a review of alternatives to the Mayfield estimator. Condor 106:472–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jones J, Ramoni-Perazzi P, Carruthers EH, Robertson RJ (2002) Species composition of bird communities in shade coffee plantations in the Venezuelan Andes. Ornitol Neotrop 13:397–412Google Scholar
  36. Kattan GH, Alvarez-López H, Giraldo M (1994) Forest fragmentation and bird extinctions: San Antonio eighty years later. Conserv Biol 8:138–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Keyser AJ (2002) Nest predation in fragmented forests: landscape matrix by distance from edge interactions. Wilson Bull 114:186–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leite LO, Marini MÂ (1999) The effects of forest fragmentation on predation rates of artificial bird nests in Minas Gerais. Ciênc Cult 51:34–37Google Scholar
  39. Lopes LE, Marini MÂ (2005) Low reproductive success of campo suiriri (Suiriri affinis) and chapada flycatcher (S. islerorum) in the central Brazilian cerrado. Bird Conserv Int 15:337–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lopes LE, Góes R, Souza S, Ferreira RM (2004) Observations on a nest of the Stygian Owl (Asio stygius) in the Central Brazilian Cerrado. Ornitol Neotrop 15:423–427Google Scholar
  41. Machado RB, Neto MBR, Pereira PGP, Caldas EF, Gonçalves DA, Santos NS, Tabor K, Steininger M (2004) Estimativas de perda de área do Cerrado brasileiro. Unpublished internal report, Conservação Internacional do Brasil, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  42. Maldonado-Coelho M, Marini MÂ (2004) Mixed-species bird flocks from Brazilian Atlantic forest: the effects of forest fragmentation and seasonality on their size, richness and stability. Biol Conserv 116:19–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Marinho-Filho J, Rodrigues F, Guimarães M (1998) Vertebrados da Estação Ecológica de Águas Emendadas—História Natural e Ecologia em um Fragmento de Cerrado do Brasil Central. SEMATEC, IEMA, IBAMA, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  44. Marini MÂ (2001) Effects of forest fragmentation on birds of the cerrado region, Brazil. Bird Conserv Int 11:13–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Marini MÂ, Durães R (2001) Annual patterns of molt and reproduction activity of passerines in South Brazil. Condor 103:767–775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Marini MÂ, Garcia FI (2005) Bird conservation in Brazil. Conserv Biol 19:665–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marini MÂ, Robinson SK, Heske EJ (1995) Edge effects on nest predation in the Shawnee National Forest, southern Illinois. Biol Conserv 74:203–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Martin TE (1996) Life history evolution in tropical and south temperate birds: what do we really know? J Avian Biol 27:263–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mayfield HF (1961) Nesting success calculated from exposure. Wilson Bull 73:255–261Google Scholar
  50. Mayfield HF (1975) Suggestions for calculating nest success. Wilson Bull 87:456–466Google Scholar
  51. Medeiros RCS, Marini MÂ (2007) Biologia reprodutiva de Elaenia chiriquensis (Lawrence) (Aves, Tyrannidae) em Cerrado do Brasil Central. Rev Bras Zool 24:12–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Melo C, Marini MÂ (1997) Predação de ninhos artificiais em fragmentos de matas do Brasil central. Ornitol Neotrop 8:7–14Google Scholar
  53. Mermoz ME, Reboreda JC (1998) Nesting success in brown-and-yellow marshbirds: effects of timing, nest site, and brood parasitism. Auk 115:871–878Google Scholar
  54. Miller SG, Knigth RL, Miller CK (1998) Influence of recreational trails on breeding bird communities. Ecol Appl 8:162–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Nams VO (1997) Density-dependent predation by skunks using olfactory search images. Oecologia 110:440–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nimer E (1979) Climatologia no Brasil. Série Recursos Naturais e Meio Ambiente, No. 4. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), SUPREN, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  58. Nores AI, Nores M (1994) Nest building and nest behavior of the brown cachalote. Wilson Bull 106:106–120Google Scholar
  59. Paine RT (1966) Food web complexity and species diversity. Am Nat 100:65–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Paton PWC (1994) The effect of edge on avian nest success: how strong is the evidence? Conserv Biol 8:17–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Perkins AJ, Hancock MH, Butcher N, Summers RW (2005) Use of time-lapse video cameras to determine causes of nest failure of Slavonian Grebes Podiceps auritus. Bird Study 52:159–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Phillips J, Nol E, Burke D, Dunford W (2005) Impacts of housing developments on wood thrush nesting success in hardwood forest fragments. Condor 107:97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Piatt JF, Roberts BD, Lidster WW, Wells JL, Hatch SA (1990) Effects of human disturbance on breeding Least and Crested Auklets at St-Lawrence-Island. Alaska Auk 107:342–350Google Scholar
  64. Pulliam HR (1988) Sources, sinks, and population regulation. Am Nat 132:652–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Reijnen R, Foppen R, Veenbaas G (1997) Disturbance by traffic of breeding birds: evaluation of the effect and considerations in planning and managing road corridors. Biodivers Conserv 6:567–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reitsma R, Parrish JD, McLarney W (2001) The role of cacao plantations in maintaining forest avian diversity in southeastern Costa Rica. Agrofor Syst 53:185–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ribon R (1998) Fatores que influenciam a distribuição da avifauna em fragmentos de Mata Atlântica nas montanhas de Minas Gerais. Master thesis, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo HorizonteGoogle Scholar
  68. Ribon R, Simon JE, Mattos GT (2003) Bird extinctions in Atlantic forest fragments of the Viçosa region, southeastern Brazil. Conserv Biol 17:1827–1839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Robinson SK, Thompson FR III, Donovan TM, Whitehead DR, Faaborg J (1995) Regional forest fragmentation and the nesting success of migratory birds. Science 267:1987–1990CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Roda SA, Carlos CJ (2003) On a nest of Yellow-chinned Spinetail (Certhiaxis cinnamormea—Passeriformes, Furnariidae) built with bites of wire. Lundiana 4:69–70Google Scholar
  71. Sick H (1997) Ornitologia Brasileira. Nova Fronteira, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  72. Silva JMC (1995) Birds of the Cerrado region, South America. Steenstrupia 21:69–92Google Scholar
  73. Silva JMC (1997) Endemic birds species and conservation in the Cerrado region, South America. Biodivers Conserv 6:435–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Silva JMC, Bates JM (2002) Biogeographic patterns and conservation in the South American Cerrado: a tropical savanna hotspot. Bioscience 52:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Silva MC Jr, Felfili JM (1996) A Vegetação da Estação Ecológica de Águas Emendadas. Governo do Distrito Federal, SEMATEC, IEMA, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  76. Stratford JA, Stouffer PC (1999) Local extinctions of terrestrial insectivorous birds in a fragmented landscape near Manaus, Brazil. Conserv Biol 13:1416–1423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Stutchbury BJM, Morton ES (2001) Behavioral ecology of tropical birds. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  78. Tabarelli M, Mantovani W (1997) Predação de ovos e remoção de propágulos em um fragmento de Floresta Atlântica, ES—Brasil. Rev Bras Biol 57:699–707Google Scholar
  79. Tewksbury JJ, Garner L, Garner S, Lloyd JD, Saab V, Martin TE (2006) Tests of landscape influence: nest predation and brood parasitism in fragmented ecosystems. Ecology 87:759–768CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Tuero DT, Fiorini VD, Reboreda JC (2007) Effects of Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis parasitism on different components of House Wren Troglodytes aedon reproductive success. Ibis 149:521–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Turner IM (1996) Species loss in fragments of tropical rain forest: a review of the evidence. J Appl Ecol 33:200–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Vasconcelos MF, Werneck MS, de la Peña MR (2006) Observações sobre a construção de um ninho de cavalaria (Paroaria capitata) com material industrializado. Rev Brasil Ornitol 14:167–168Google Scholar
  83. Viana A (1932) Sobre um ninho de arame. Bol Mus Nac 8:135–136Google Scholar
  84. Vitousek PM, Mooney HA, Lubchenko J, Melillo JM (1997) Human domination of Earth’s ecosystems. Science 277:494–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Whitcomb RF, Robbins CF, Lynch JF, Bystrak BL, Klimkiewitz MK, Bystrack D (1981) Effects of forest fragmentation on avifaunas of the eastern deciduous forest. In: Burgess RL, Sharpe DM (eds) Forest Island dynamics in man-dominated landscapes. Springer, New York, pp 125–205Google Scholar
  86. Wilcove DS (1985) Nest predation in forest tracts and the decline of migratory songbirds. Ecology 66:1211–1214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Willis EO (1974) Population and local extinctions of birds on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Ecol Monogr 44:153–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wilson S, Martin K, Hannon SJ (2007) Nest survival patterns in willow ptarmigan: influence of time, nesting stage, and female characteristics. Condor 109:377–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Woodworth BL (1997) Brood parasitism, nest predation, and season-long reproductive success of a tropical island endemic. Condor 99:605–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wunderle JM Jr, Latta SC (1998) Avian resource use in Dominican shade coffee plantations. Wilson Bull 110:271–281Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fábio Júlio Alves Borges
    • 1
  • Miguel Ângelo Marini
    • 2
  1. 1.Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

Personalised recommendations