Abstract

Due to the nature of their habitat, tree swallows live in close proximity to other secondary cavity nesters, such as the mountain bluebird. While they do not compete for food or territory while brooding, neighbouring relationships can greatly impact the success of both birds. Literature suggests that neighbours can increase success through processes of reciprocal altruism in nest defence or decrease success through density-dependent competition. The goal of this study is to understand the impact that conspecific and heterospecific neighbours have on tree swallow reproductive success. The findings can be applied to habitat management to promote the highest possible success for tree swallows. For this study, I am using a series of bird boxes, inhabited by tree swallows and mountain bluebirds, throughout the Kamloops, BC area. I have compiled data on approximately 650 tree swallow nests and their neighbours over an 8 year period. Using a negative binomial linear mixed model analysis, I analyzed factors that related to reproductive success, such as the proportion of the nest that fledged, the number of eggs, nestlings, and fledgeling, and the occurrence of a fledged nest, in relation to the distance to the nearest conspecific and heterospecific neighbour and concentration of each type of neighbour in an area. The findings from these analyses may reveal changes in success due to neighbour proximity.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Matthew Reudink

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The Neighbourhood Watch: Does the Promixity to Neighbours Influence Nest Success in Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor)?

Due to the nature of their habitat, tree swallows live in close proximity to other secondary cavity nesters, such as the mountain bluebird. While they do not compete for food or territory while brooding, neighbouring relationships can greatly impact the success of both birds. Literature suggests that neighbours can increase success through processes of reciprocal altruism in nest defence or decrease success through density-dependent competition. The goal of this study is to understand the impact that conspecific and heterospecific neighbours have on tree swallow reproductive success. The findings can be applied to habitat management to promote the highest possible success for tree swallows. For this study, I am using a series of bird boxes, inhabited by tree swallows and mountain bluebirds, throughout the Kamloops, BC area. I have compiled data on approximately 650 tree swallow nests and their neighbours over an 8 year period. Using a negative binomial linear mixed model analysis, I analyzed factors that related to reproductive success, such as the proportion of the nest that fledged, the number of eggs, nestlings, and fledgeling, and the occurrence of a fledged nest, in relation to the distance to the nearest conspecific and heterospecific neighbour and concentration of each type of neighbour in an area. The findings from these analyses may reveal changes in success due to neighbour proximity.

 

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