Skip to main content

Data from: Context-dependent costs and benefits of a heterospecific nesting association

Cite this dataset

Swift, Rose J; Rodewald, Amanda D; Senner, Nathan R (2018). Data from: Context-dependent costs and benefits of a heterospecific nesting association [Dataset]. Dryad.


The costs and benefits of interactions among species can vary spatially or temporally, making them context-dependent. For example, benefits associated with nesting near species that deter predators may give way to costs if the association increases the risk of predation during other stages of reproduction. We examined the extent to which the costs and benefits of heterospecific aggregations between a declining shorebird, the Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica), and a potential protector and predator, the Mew Gull (Larus canus), varied with breeding stage. Specifically, we assessed the spatial distribution and fate of 43 godwit and 262 gull nests in Beluga, Alaska, from 2014 – 2016. We then evaluated the effect of habitat and proximity to gulls on daily survival rates of 120 godwit nests from 2009 – 2016. We also examined the relationship between the proximity to gulls and survival of godwit chicks to five days old, the period when they are vulnerable to gull predation. Nests of godwits and gulls were significantly clustered across the landscape, a pattern that habitat heterogeneity failed to explain. Hatching success of godwit nests improved with proximity to the gull colony and increasing numbers of gull nests within 200m. In contrast, survival of godwit chicks to five days improved with increasing distance to the gull colony. The costs and benefits that godwits derived from associating with Mew Gulls were thus context-dependent, with benefits pre-hatch and costs post-hatch. Our results show how spatiotemporal variation in species interactions preclude simple generalizations about the nature of their outcomes.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: 1110444, DGE-1144153


Beluga River