Avian nest-site selection is an important research and management subject. The hooded crane (Grus monacha) is a vulnerable (VU) species according to the IUCN Red List. Here, we present the first long-term Chinese legacy nest data for this species (1993–2010) with publicly available metadata. Further, we provide the first study that reports findings on multivariate nest habitat preference using such long-term field data for this species. Our work was carried out in Northeastern China, where we found and measured 24 nests and 81 randomly selected control plots and their environmental parameters in a vast landscape. We used machine learning (stochastic boosted regression trees) to quantify nest selection. Our analysis further included varclust (R Hmisc) and (TreenNet) to address statistical correlations and two-way interactions. We found that from an initial list of 14 measured field variables, water area ( ), water depth ( ) and shrub coverage (-) were the main explanatory variables that contributed to hooded crane nest-site selection. Agricultural sites played a smaller role in the selection of these nests. Our results are important for the conservation management of cranes all over East Asia and constitute a defensible and quantitative basis for predictive models.
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Vol. 31 • No. 7