Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (6): 22570.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022570

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Does research activity affect nest survival of birds? A case study on the black-throated tit (Aegithalos concinnus)

Qian Hu1, Ye Wen1,2, Lei Lv3, Pengcheng Wang4, Jianqiang Li1,*(), Jiliang Xu1,*()   

  1. 1. School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    2. Hunan Polytechnic of Environment and Biology, Hengyang, Hunan 421005
    3. School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055
    4. School of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023


Aims: The effects of research-related activity (i.e. nest visit and video-filming) on the nest survival of birds has always been of concern. Although recent studies have suggested that the effects are limited, most of these studies were conducted on birds building either open or cavity nests; however, studies demonstrating the effects of research-related activities on species building dome nests remain scarce. To explore the effects of researcher activities on the nest survival of birds building dome nests, we investigated whether researcher-related activities, including nest visit and video-filming, affected the daily nest survival rate of black-throated tit (Aegithalos concinnus).

Methods: Data were collected in the Dongzhai National Nature Reserve of Henan Province between 2011 and 2018 and were analyzed for black-throated tits’ egg stage (egg-laying and egg-incubation) and nestling stage, respectively. Nest survival analyses were performed using the RMark in R.

Results: The analysis of egg-laying stage (n = 215 nests) showed that neither researchers’ nest visit nor video-filming activities had a significant effect on the daily nest survival rate of black-throated tits. Similar results were obtained for the nestling stage (n = 200 nests); nest visit and video-filming did not significantly affect the daily nest survival rate of black-throated tits. Furthermore, the daily nest survival rate was not affected by nest height or nest age, but decreased significantly with the increase of egg-laying date at the egg stage and with the increase of hatching date at the nestling stage.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that research-related activities do not have a significant impact on bird nest survival and are consistent with the findings of similar studies. Although research-related effects on bird nests are limited, researchers should still consider the potential impact of research activities on their research objective.

Key words: nest visit, nest predation, nest survival, Aegithalos concinnus, research disturbance