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Habitat geometry rather than visual acuity limits the visibility of a ground-nesting bird's clutch to terrestrial predators.
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  • George Hancock,
  • Lizzie Grayshon,
  • Ryan Burrell,
  • Andrew Hoodless,
  • Innes Cuthill,
  • Jolyon Troscianko
George Hancock
University of Exeter College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Lizzie Grayshon
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
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Ryan Burrell
Bournemouth University
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Andrew Hoodless
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
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Innes Cuthill
University of Bristol
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Jolyon Troscianko
University of Exeter
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The nests of ground-nesting birds rely heavily on camouflage for their survival, and predation pressures, often linked to human activity, are a major source of mortality. Numerous ground-nesting bird populations are in decline, so understanding the effects of camouflage on their nesting behaviour is of relevance to their conservation concern. Habitat three-dimensional (3D) geometry together with predator visual abilities, viewing distance, and viewing angle determine whether a nest is either visible, occluded or too far away to detect. While this link is intuitive, few studies have investigated how fine-scale geometry is likely to help defend nests from different predator guilds. We quantified nest visibility based on 3D occlusion, camouflage, and predator visual modelling in northern lapwing, Vanellus Vanellus, on different land management regimes. Lapwings selected local backgrounds that had a higher 3D complexity at a spatial scale greater than their entire clutches compared to nearby control sites. Importantly, our findings show that habitat geometry – rather than predator visual acuity restricts nest visibility to terrestrial predators, and that an open field would actually be perceived as a closed habitat to a terrestrial predator searching for nests on the ground. Taken together with lapwings’ careful nest site selection, our findings highlight the importance of considering habitat geometry for understanding the evolutionary ecology and management of conservation sites for ground-nesting birds.
11 May 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
13 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
13 May 2023Assigned to Editor
15 May 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
07 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
10 Aug 20231st Revision Received
11 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
11 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
11 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
18 Aug 2023Editorial Decision: Accept