Factors affecting nesting success in the Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus at Lake Tonga, north-east Algeria
The breeding ecology of the Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus was investigated over four consecutive years (2009–2012) at Lake Tonga, north-east Algeria. In all four years, the egg-laying period was relatively short, spanning two months (end of March to end of May), and bimodal. Nests were mainly located in Phragmites australis, over water of substantial depth (178 ± 43 cm, N = 209), far from the shore and in habitat with low vegetation cover (12.37 ± 7.67%, N = 209). The overall clutch size was 3.73 ± 0.92 eggs (N = 127) and it decreased marginally over time. The overall nesting success was 70.4% (N = 209), with nest failure caused mainly by predation (65%) and flooding (23%). Breeding outcome was significantly and positively related to nest size, with bigger nests conferring better survival to eggs and young probably through affording better protection during spells of adverse weather. However, the benefits of bigger nests may be confounded by the age or intrinsic quality of birds. The location of nests in P. australis, rather than other vegetation types, increased nesting success marginally but significantly. Two cases of interspecific mixed clutches involving the Great-crested Grebe were recorded.
Keywords: breeding, mixed clutches, nest-site selection, nest size, North Africa, Podiceps cristatus, waterbirds