Intra-seasonal changes in depredation influence nest survival, but this may be mediated by the foraging behavior of predators or seasonal variability in habitat features. Intra-seasonal differences in factors influencing daily nest survival rates of Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) were studied in southern Ontario, Canada, during May-August 2015 and 2016. Survival of early and late-nesting individuals in relation to nest-specific temporal and spatial characteristics was investigated, including nest habitat change over the nesting cycle. The daily nest survival rate for early nesters (n = 112) declined with increasing nest age (β = -14.97; P = < 0.001), and rose with increased proportion of vegetation (β = 0.01; P = 0.02) and increased conspecific nest spacing (β = 0.01; P = 0.04). Daily nest survival rate for late nesters (n = 80) was influenced by increasing nest age (β = -12.99; P = < 0.001), with a decline during the nestling stage, and no habitat or spatial correlates. A propensity toward smaller clutch sizes with diminished survival in the late season (β = 0.67; P = 0.01) further highlights intra-seasonal differences in factors that affect survival. Predator foraging behavior may influence intra-seasonal survival patterns more than seasonal variability in habitat features.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1