The Emei Shan Liocichla (Liocichla omeiensis) is a globally vulnerable babbler, endemic to southwestern China. We investigated its nest predators, nest-site selection and nest success at the Laojunshan National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China in order to identify the precise nesting-habitat requirements of the species, and to test whether the nest-site-selection cues, preferred by the Emei Shan Liocichla, are positively associated with nest success.
We used infrared cameras to determine nest predators. We compared the microhabitat attributes between nest and random sites, as well as successful and failed nests. We used Binary Logistic Regression to determine the most important variables affecting nest-site selection of the Emei Shan Liocichla. We used the nest survival analysis in Program MARK to estimate daily nest survival rates (DSR). Nest success was calculated using the Mayfield method.
In total 56 nests were found. The DSR for all nests that contained at least one egg was 0.9564 ± 0.0091 (95 % CI 0.9346–0.9711) (n = 40), while the total nest success was 27.5 %. We identified four categories of predators in 10 nest predation events, i.e. squirrels (n = 5), snakes (n = 3), raptors (n = 1) and wasps (n = 1). We found that: (1) nest predation was the primary reason for nest failure of the Emei Shan Liocichla, (2) tree cover, bamboo cover, liana abundance and distance to forest edge or gap were the most important variables affecting nest-site selection of this species, and (3) the nest-site-selection variables we measured appeared not to be positively associated with nest success.
Our findings suggest that the Emei Shan Liocichla tended to select nest sites near forest edges or gaps with good concealment and that nest-site selection by this species was nonrandom but not necessarily adaptive. Reducing forest-edge development and protecting bamboo stands should be effective for conservation of this species.