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Songbirds can benefit from natal philopatry through prior knowledge about site‐specific resources and local adaptation to environmental conditions. Likewise, breeding experience may also play a role in reproductive success. However, for birds that breed in managed habitats, management activities may overwhelm any potential benefits of philopatry or breeding experience. We examined the effect of site fidelity on reproductive success in 1,823 bobolink and Savannah sparrow nests in agricultural grasslands in Vermont, USA. From 2003–2019 we monitored the nests of 51 female Savannah sparrows and 72 female bobolinks that returned to breed on or near fields in which they hatched between 2002 and 2018). Using program MARK, we found that daily nest survival (DNS) differed between species and grassland treatment types and was not affected by philopatry. Bobolinks had greater DNS than Savannah sparrows, and DNS was generally greater on late‐hayed fields than either early‐hayed fields or rotationally‐grazed pastures. Our results show that despite the potential for increased fitness through site fidelity or breeding experience, agricultural management has an equal or greater influence on female reproductive success.


© 2021 The Wildlife Society

Originally published:

Denny, K., N.G. Perlut and A.M. Strong. 2021. Management Schemes, not Philopatry or Breeding Experience, Affect Nest Success of Two Songbirds in Vermont Hayfields. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 45:267-273. DOI: 10.1002/wsb.1194

Author Kylie Denny conducted this research as a University of New England student.

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