Forest fragmentation may cause increased brood parasitism and nest predation of breeding birds. In North America, nest parasitism and predation are expected to increase closer to forest edges because the brood-parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird(Molothrus ater) and generalist nest predators often enter the forest from adjoining developed (largely agricultural) habitats. Yet the abundance of brood parasites and nest predators at the patch scale may be strongly constrained by the total area of developed habitat at landscape scales. The scale and extent of landscape effects are unclear, however, because past studies were mostly conducted within local landscapes rather than across independent landscapes. We report replicated studies from 30 independent landscapes across 17 states of the United States that show that nest parasitism is strongly affected by fragmentation at a 20 km radius scale, equivalent to the maximum foraging range of cowbirds. Nest predation is influenced by both edge and landscape effects, and increases with fragmentation at a 10 km radius scale. Predation is additive to parasitism mortality, and the two together yield decreased population growth potential with increasing forest fragmentation at a 10 km radius scale for 20 of 22 bird species. Mapping of population growth potential across continental landscapes displays broad impacts of fragmentation on population viability and allows geographic prioritization for conservation.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/thomas_e_martin/29/