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The design of artificial nestboxes for the study of secondary hole-nesting birds: A review of methodological inconsistencies and potential biases

Lambrechts, M.M. and Adriaensen, F. and Ardia, D.R. and Artemyev, A.V. and Atiénzar, F. and Bańbura, J. and Barba, E. and Bouvier, J.C. and Camprodon, J. and Cooper, C.B. and Dawson, R.D. and Eens, M. and Eeva, T. and Faivre, B. and Garamszegi, L.Z. and Goodenough, A.E. and Gosler, A.G. and Grégoire, A. and Griffith, S.C. and Gustafsson, L. and Johnson, L.S. and Kania, W. and Keišs, O. and Llambias, P.E. and Mainwaring, M.C. and Mänd, R. and Massa, B. and Mazgajski, T.D. and Møller, A.P. and Moreno, J. and Naef-Daenzer, B. and Nilsson, J-A. and Norte, A.C. and Orell, M. and Otter, K.A. and Park, C.R. and Perrins, C.M. and Pinowski, J. and Porkert, J. and Potti, J. and Remes, V. and Richner, H. and Rytkönen, S. and Shiao, M.T. and Silverin, B. and Slagsvold, T. and Smith, H.G. and Sorace, A. and Stenning, M.J. and Stewart, I. and Thompson, C.F. and Tryjanowski, P. and Török, J. and Van Noordwijk, A.J. and Winkler, D.W. and Ziane, N. (2010) The design of artificial nestboxes for the study of secondary hole-nesting birds: A review of methodological inconsistencies and potential biases. Acta Ornithologica, 45, 1-26. ISSN 0001-6454.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3161/000164510X516047

Abstract

The widespread use of artificial nestboxes has led to significant advances in our knowledge of the ecology, behaviour and physiology of cavity nesting birds, especially small passerines. Nestboxes have made it easier to perform routine monitoring and experimental manipulation of eggs or nestlings, and also repeatedly to capture, identify and manipulate the parents. However, when comparing results across study sites the use of nestboxes may also introduce a potentially significant confounding variable in the form of differences in nestbox design amongst studies, such as their physical dimensions, placement height, and the way in which they are constructed and maintained. However, the use of nestboxes may also introduce an unconsidered and potentially significant confounding variable due to differences in nestbox design amongst studies, such as their physical dimensions, placement height, and the way in which they are constructed and maintained. Here we review to what extent the characteristics of artificial nestboxes (e.g. size, shape, construction material, colour) are documented in the ‘methods’ sections of publications involving hole-nesting passerine birds using natural or excavated cavities or artificial nestboxes for reproduction and roosting. Despite explicit previous recommendations that authors describe in detail the characteristics of the nestboxes used, we found that the description of nestbox characteristics in most recent publications remains poor and insufficient. We therefore list the types of descriptive data that should be included in the methods sections of relevant manuscripts and justify this by discussing how variation in nestbox characteristics can affect or confound conclusions from nestbox studies. We also propose several recommendations to improve the reliability and usefulness of research based on long-term studies of any secondary hole-nesting species using artificial nestboxes for breeding or roosting.

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:7835
Deposited On:07 Oct 2010 02:00
Last Modified:24 Apr 2012 16:43

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