Nest predation and the species diversity of birds

  • Ricklefs R
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In a recent series of papers, Thomas E. Martin has suggested that selective, density-dependent predation on nests may promote ecological diversification of birds and constrain the number of coexisting species in a community. In an experimental study, Martin has demonstrated density-dependent predation on artificial nests constructed and placed so as to mimic natural ones. Comparisons between habitats indicate that availability of suitable nest sites may influence community diversity more strongly than does diversity of foraging niches. Although his case is circumstantial at this point, Martin argues compellingly for considering predation more seriously in studies of community ecology. Indeed, many patterns attributed to competition for food resources may arise, instead, from the partitioning of predator-escape space. © 1989.

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  • Robert E. Ricklefs

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