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Predation of artificial nests in a fragmented landscape in the tropical region of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico

Predation rates of artificial nests were investigated in a fragmented landscape in the lowlands of Los Tuxtlas in southern Mexico. Hen and plasticine eggs were used to assess predation pressure in four habitats: the interior of forest fragments, the forest–pasture edge, corridors of residual forest vegetation and linear strips of live fences across pastures. Three sites per habitat were used in three experimental trials. Hen and plasticine ground nests with three eggs each were alternated every 50 m along transects at each site. Predation rates on each type of nest were monitored for 9 days. Survey of potential avian and mammalian potential nest predators were conducted at each site prior to the experimental trails. Readings of amount of light illuminating the ground were taken by each nest at each site to assess exposure of nests. In general, average predation rates were significantly higher for both hen and plasticine nests in the forest–pasture edge and in the corridors than in the interior of the forest fragments. While birds and mammals were the principal predators on hen eggs in the forests, mammals were responsible for the majority (⩾70%) of eggs damaged at the other habitats. Surveys of potential nest predators showed that avian and mammalian potential nest predators were significantly more common at the forest–pasture edges and at the other habitats than in the forests. Readings of light reaching the ground suggest that concealment of nests by the vegetation may play an important role in predation risk. Our results are consistent with reports from other Neotropical rainforests indicating an increase of artificial nest predation pressures from forest interior to open habitats. Restoration of forest fragments, allowing the vegetation to grow along the forest–pasture edge and the planting of arboreal crops at the forest–pasture edges may be measures that could increase cover and nest protection. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biological Conservation Elsevier
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