Patterns of artificial avian nest predation by introduced rats in a fragmented laurel forest (Tenerife, Canary Islands)
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The importance of introduced rats as damaging factors on island biotas is globally recognized. The predation of artificial avian nests by Ship rats (Rattus rattus) in fragmented laurel forests in Tenerife (Canary Islands) was explored. The influence of road edge, patch type, and position (ground versus tree) on nest survival in two forest remnants differing in conservation degree, were assessed using failure-time analysis. Overall, nest predation was greater in the preserved than in the disturbed remnant. Nest predation also differed among and within patches, variation being greater within the disturbed remnant. The probability of nest failure was higher at the interior than along the road edge in both remnants, but the road edge effect on nest predation was more intense in the disturbed remnant. Predation pressure was higher in patches of mature, closed canopy or dense understorey with stump sprouting. Ground nests were predated at higher rates than tree nests at any location. These results contrast with other nest predation studies in fragmented landscapes where forest edges rather than the interior are more frequently used by predators. Predatory activity by rats seems negatively affected by forest disturbance and road edge effect. Overall, artificial nest predation patterns by rats confirm a potential predation risk for the avifauna of the Canarian laurel forest. This should be considered in implementing conservation management programmes.