We evaluated the influence of stream geomorphology and habitat quality on brood weight, offspring growth rate, and territory length of Belted Kingfishers (Ceryle alcyon) in northwestern Vermont, USA. We gathered measurements of habitat use, fish abundance and biomass, and reproductive success at breeding territories in stream reaches of differing geomorphic and habitat conditions during spring and early summer 2002. We used model selection based on AICc to examine the effects of stream geomorphology, habitat quality, and fish abundance and biomass on the selected reproductive measures. Geomorphic condition emerged as the most important predictor variable for models of both brood weight and territory length. We tested two viable models during the 2003 breeding season at new, independent breeding territories and found them to be well-supported. Our results provide evidence that stream geomorphic condition plays both direct and indirect roles in the habitat use and reproduction of Belted Kingfishers, suggesting that stream and riparian management strategies focused on protecting and restoring functional morphology will have ecological benefits for riverine birds.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3