Cave swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) nest reuse in east-central Texas
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Although nest reuse is most commonly associated with costs such as nest instability and increased ectoparasite loads,contrary evidence supports the possibility that nest reuse might provide an adaptive function in the form of time and energy savings. The Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva), which nests under bridges and culverts in east-central Texas, chooses predominately to reuse nests when old nests are available. I conducted a field experiment involving bridge pairs and single bridges, in which I applied a treatment of nest removal to one bridge of each pair and one half of each single bridge in order to test whether control bridges and nests exhibited increased productivity from the availability of old nests. I found that a higher percentage of young fledged from control bridges and more fledged per clutch from control bridges. Small sample sizes diminished the ability to detect differences within the single bridge experiment. Results from this research support the time-energy savings concept and may be reconciled with conflicting research through fundamental differences between studies in immunity to ectoparasites, infestation type, and nest microclimate.
Byerly, Margaret Elizabeth (2004). Cave swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) nest reuse in east-central Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from