Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (435 KB)

Title: Facultative nest patch shifts in response to nest predation risk in the Brewer's sparrow: a "win-stay, lose-switch" strategy?

Author: Chalfoun, Anna D.; Martin, Thomas E.;

Date: 2010

Source: Oecologia. 163: 885-892.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Facultative shifts in nesting habitat selection in response to perceived predation risk may allow animals to increase the survival probability of sessile offspring. Previous studies on this behavioral strategy have primarily focused on single attributes, such as the distance moved or changes in nesting substrate. However, nest site choice often encompasses multiple habitat elements at both the nest site and nest patch scales. We studied the within-season re-nesting strategy of a multi-brooded songbird, the Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri), to determine whether pairs utilized a "win-stay, lose-switch" decision rule with respect to inter-nest distance, nest substrate and/or nest patch characteristics in response to previous nest fate. Pairs moved sequential nest sites slightly farther following nest predation versus success. When inter-nest distance was controlled, however, pairs changed nest patch attributes (shrub height, potential nest shrub density) associated with probability of nest predation to a greater extent following nest predation than success. The strategy appeared to be adaptive; daily nest survival probability for previously depredated pairs increased with greater Euclidian habitat distances between attempts, whereas previously successful pairs were more likely to fledge second attempts when nest sites were similar to those of previous attempts. Our results suggest that nesting birds can use prior information and within-season plasticity in response to nest predation to increase re-nesting success, which may be a critical behavioral strategy within complex nest predator environments. Re-nesting site selection strategies also appeared to integrate multiple habitat components and inter-nest distances. The consideration of such proximate, facultative responses to predation risk may clarify often unexplained variation in habitat preferences and requirements.

Keywords: behavioral plasticity, Brewer's sparrow, habitat selection, prior information, re-nesting

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Chalfoun, Anna D.; Martin, Thomas E. 2010. Facultative nest patch shifts in response to nest predation risk in the Brewer's sparrow: a "win-stay, lose-switch" strategy? Oecologia. 163: 885-892.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.