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Title: The Role of Habitat Structure in Nest Site Selection and Breeding Success of Yellow Warblers in the Revelstoke Reach, BC

Authors: Sam P. Quinlan and David J. Green

Year: 2006

Report Abstract
Human activities have resulted in the loss and degradation of over 95% of riparian habitat in North America over the last one hundred years. Riparian habitats support high levels of biodiversity and the loss of this habitat has been linked to the population declines of the many vertebrate species (e.g. DeSante and George 1994). Birds are a key component of riparian habitats and detailed studies of riparian-dependent bird populations provide an effective way to monitor their overall health. We studied the breeding biology of yellow warblers (Dendroica petechia) in riparian habitat adjacent to the Upper Arrow Reservoir near Revelstoke, BC. We examined how habitat features at four spatial scales influence the use of riparian habitat by nesting yellow warblers and evaluated how habitat attributes influence cowbird parasitism rates and the productivity of breeding birds. Yellow warblers selected nest sites using multiple variables at the nest, local (5m), broad (11.3 m) and territory (50m) scale. Discriminant function analysis suggested that yellow warblers preferred riparian habitat containing high densities of mature willow stems contiguous with mature forest and avoided riparian habitat broken up into small patches. Nest sites located in dense willow contiguous to mature forest were also more likely to avoid parasitism and successfully fledge young. This study suggests that restoration efforts attempting to enhance riparian habitat for songbirds should focus on linking existing riparian habitat to mature forest and reducing the number of isolated riparian patches. Willow plantings that result in dense thickets are also likely to function to both attract nesting songbirds and enhance productivity.

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The Role of Habitat Structure in Nest Site Selection and Breeding Success of Yellow Warblers in the Revelstoke Reach, BC

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