Nest predation has been considered an important factor in the evolution of avian life histories: smaller clutches and shorter incubation and nestling periods are expected where nest predation has significant effects on reproductive success. Unlike the Australian avifauna, terrestrial New Zealand birds have evolved in the absence of reptilian and mammalian predators. Here we compare the reproductive strategies of terrestrial native New Zealand birds with those of their Australian sister taxa. In 11 of 14 comparisons, New Zealand birds were larger than their Australian relatives, but we did not find any significant differences in reproductive tactics between the two regions, a result inconsistent with the nest predation hypothesis. We discuss several reasons why this may be so. One possibility is that selection imposed on avian life history tactics by mammalian predators following the arrival of humans in New Zealand has led to strategies similar to those adopted in Australia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics