We quantified Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) site fidelity and apparent survival across a 6 year period in an area undergoing shale gas development.Waterthrush initially exhibited high site fidelity that declined over time. At the same time, the number of unpaired males defending territories increased as did natal fidelity. We identified site fidelity factors that influenced if adult males and females returned. More males returned either due to or regardless of amount of shale gas disturbance and lower riparian habitat quality. Females were less likely to return with increased number of breeding attempts. Females in shale gas disturbed areas had a higher number of breeding attempts and lower individual productivity. We saw a general nonsignificant trend in declining apparent survival over time. Overall apparent survival estimates for adult males (0.56) and females (0.44) were similar to those reported for other populations. Apparent survival candidate models suggested weak, positive relationships of increased survival with shale gas territory disturbance, disturbance with year, and year for adult males, and a positive relationship of increased survival with hydraulic fracturing runoff for adult females although regression coefficients overlapped zero for all model-supported covariates implying no statistical significance. Since waterthrush can maintain pair bonds from the previous year and females must pick a nest site within the defended male's territory, there are potential conflicts between factors that influence adult survival and site fidelity that may affect long-term population persistence. Our study adds to previous evidence that shale gas disturbed areas may serve as sink habitats.
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