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Data from: Linking songbird nest predation to seedling density: sugar maple masting as a resource pulse in a forest food web

Citation

Fiola, Marie-Line; Vernouillet, Alizée; Villard, Marc-André (2018), Data from: Linking songbird nest predation to seedling density: sugar maple masting as a resource pulse in a forest food web, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.708b0

Abstract

The ecological literature presents considerable evidence for top-down forcing on the maintenance of species diversity. Yet, in temperate forests, bottom-up forces often exert a strong influence on ecosystem functioning. Here, we report on the indirect influence of a pulsed resource, sugar maple (Acer saccharum) seed production, on nest survival in a migratory songbird. We hypothesized that seed production in year t would determine daily nest survival rate in year t + 1 through its effects on seed-eating rodents. We used the density of sugar maple seedlings (with cotyledons) in year t + 1 as a proxy for seed production in year t and predicted that it would be inversely related to songbird nest survival the same year. We estimated the density of sugar maple seedlings, eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) activity, and daily nest survival rate in the ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) over four successive years in a northern hardwood forest of New Brunswick, Canada. Seedling density varied by two orders of magnitude between years, whereas an index of chipmunk activity changed by an order of magnitude. Both variables were positively correlated and negatively correlated to daily nest survival rate. A logistic-exposure model including only seedling density received the greatest level of support (lowest AICc). Previous studies have reported the effect of sugar maple masting on seed-eating rodent populations, but the strong link we report between seedling density and songbird nest survival is novel. A nocturnal seed-eating nest predator, deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), was not considered in our models, which may explain why chipmunk was not the best predictor of daily nest survival rate. The trophic linkages we observed are remarkably strong for a temperate forest ecosystem and might become more prevalent in northeastern North America, at least on calcium-rich soils, with the loss of large-diameter beech trees as a result of beech bark disease.

Usage Notes

Location

New-Brunswick