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Indirect effects of the generalist avian predator, the goshawk, on life history of an uncommon prey species, the stock dove

Møller, Anders Pape, Flensted-Jensen, Einar, Nielsen, Jan Tøttrup
Oecologia 2016 v.182 no.4 pp. 1045-1052
Accipiter gentilis, Columba oenas, birds, breeding, climate, climate change, clutch size, eggs, hatching, life history, population growth, population size, predation, predator-prey relationships, predators, progeny, temperature, wind speed, Denmark
Predators account for lethal effects in their prey, but importantly also for non-lethal indirect effects through the presence and the activity of predators. Such non-lethal effects include altered timing of reproduction, incidence of reproduction, clutch size and quality of offspring produced. We investigated the effects of goshawks Accipiter gentilis on reproduction of the stock dove Columba oenas in 1723 breeding events during 2006–2015 in Northern Denmark, while simultaneously accounting for effects of climate on reproduction of stock doves. Stock doves were consumed by goshawks 36 times less frequently than expected from their abundance, showing that lethal effects of predation were negligible. Laying date advanced at higher temperatures and stronger winds. Laying was delayed when the population size of goshawks increased, and the effects of goshawks interacted wind speed. The frequency of eggs that did not hatch increased with the population size of goshawks, and with increasing temperatures. Recruitment rate of stock doves decreased with increasing population size of goshawks and stock doves. These findings show that indirect effects of predation by goshawks on stock doves were much larger than direct lethal effects and that climate change interacted with predator–prey interactions.