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Mutual interference during nest prospecting in the shelduck tadorna tadorna

, : Mutual interference during nest prospecting in the shelduck tadorna tadorna. Animal Behaviour 27(2): 522-535

The shelducks (T. tadorna) of the Ythan estuary, Aberdeenshire, [Scotland, UK], defended feeding territories on the estuary, but in the sand dune nesting area they formed groups while nest-prospecting, although they would be expected to space out their cryptic nests. Within the groups there was frequent aggression and the development of dominance hierarchies. Nesting success decreased significantly with increasing population size. During the selection of nest sites, mutual interference, i.e., a decrease in the amount of time spent nest-prospecting, increased with the number of birds present. There was some indirect evidence that such interference might be the cause of the density-dependent reduction in nesting success. This process will tend to have a regulatory effect on population size. The individual survival value of joining groups may be to reduce the risk of predation on the adults, but is perhaps more likely to be to gain information on the location of good nest sites.


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