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Data from: Conventional oil and natural gas infrastructure increases brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) relative abundance and parasitism in mixed-grass prairie

Citation

Bernath-Plaisted, Jacy; Nenninger, Hearther R.; Koper, Nicola; Nenninger, Heather (2017), Data from: Conventional oil and natural gas infrastructure increases brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) relative abundance and parasitism in mixed-grass prairie, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d1h97

Abstract

The rapid expansion of oil and natural gas development across the Northern Great Plains has contributed to habitat fragmentation, which may facilitate brood parasitism of ground-nesting grassland songbird nests by brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), an obligate brood parasite, through the introduction of perches and anthropogenic edges. We tested this hypothesis by measuring brown-headed cowbird relative abundance and brood parasitism rates of Savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) nests in relation to the presence of infrastructure features and proximity to potential perches and edge habitat. The presence of oil and natural gas infrastructure increased brown-headed cowbird relative abundance by a magnitude of four times, which resulted in four times greater brood parasitism rates at infrastructure sites. While the presence of infrastructure and the proximity to roads were influential in predicting brood parasitism rates, the proximity of perch sites was not. This suggests that brood parasitism associated with oil and natural gas infrastructure may result in additional pressures that reduce productivity of this declining grassland songbird.

Usage Notes

Location

Canada
Southeastern Alberta