Get access

Provisioning habitat with custom-designed nest-boxes increases reproductive success in an endangered finch

Authors

  • JAMES BRAZILL-BOAST,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
      Present address: Conservation Strategy Unit, Landscapes and Ecosystems Conservation Branch, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia (Email: james.brazillboast@environment.nsw.gov.au).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • SARAH R. PRYKE,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • SIMON C. GRIFFITH

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

Present address: Conservation Strategy Unit, Landscapes and Ecosystems Conservation Branch, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia (Email: james.brazillboast@environment.nsw.gov.au).

Abstract

Manipulating resource availability to assess the strength and effects of resource limitation on an animal population is relatively straightforward, and thus, common in the scientific literature. Resource quality, however, is rarely manipulated, as this requires a priori knowledge of a relationship between some measurable variation in the resource and individual preference and/or fitness. Recent research on nest-site selection was used to inform the design of custom-built nest-boxes for an endangered hollow-nester, the Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae). By provisioning breeding populations with these ‘high quality’ artificial nest sites over 3 years, we experimentally investigated the strength and effects of nest-site limitation in this species. Breeding pairs using nest-boxes initiated nesting earlier, produced larger clutches and fledged more offspring per season than those in natural hollows. Total and mean reproductive output also increased in nest-box provisioned sites over the duration of the study. All of these effects were predominantly driven by pairs initiating clutches earlier, potentially because of the reduced intra- and interspecific competition for nest sites at optimal breeding times. Our findings suggest that reproduction in wild Gouldian finch populations may be limited by the availability of high quality nest sites in the landscape, and that nest-boxes could be used as a tool for enhancing reproduction in recovering populations. Furthermore, we conclude that resource quality is equally, if not more important than quantity when supplementing resource-limited habitats.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary