We studied nest predation pressure on birds along an urban gradient in urban parks in three Finnish towns. Artificial ground nests with Japanese Quail (Coturnix coturnix japonicus) eggs were depredated more in the urban area than in the adjacent forest area. Within each town, the nest predation rate was higher in the town center than in the less urbanized area of detached houses. Predation rates did not vary from year to year or between study towns. Abundances of generalist avian predators were higher in the town center than in the area of detached houses and in the surrounding forest area. Most of the nests in the town center were destroyed by avian predators. Predation rate of artificial nests in each of the town areas was higher in managed parks than in unmanaged parks, presumably due to the less dense vegetation in the managed than the unmanaged parks. A test involving covering nests revealed that artificial nests covered by adjacent vegetation survived better than nests with less cover. In our study, artificial nest loss reflected the distribution of avian nest predators. Ground nesters were present at lower abundances in areas where concealing vegetation was missing and avian nest predation was high. Apparently, nest predation is one of the several possible mechanism affecting urban bird assemblages.
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Vol. 102 • No. 4