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Generally, statistics are based off the assumption that observations are independent from each other in space. In larger ecological systems however, there can be spatial autocorrelation whereby data collected in nearby areas are not independent of one another which violates the assumption of most statistical tests. It is therefore becoming commonplace for ecological studies to study spatial autocorrelation to both eliminate error (accounting for a nuisance variable that could give false positives) and to better understand the spatial structure of their system of interest. Indeed, the mechanisms that lead to spatial autocorrelation are often associated with behaviors and/or intrinsic characteristics of our target species or community. In this study we investigated whether nest productivity and nest predation of the Prothonotary Warbler (Prothonotaria Citrea) were spatially autocorrelated at Deep Bottom Park along the lower James River, VA. Nest success and predation were measured at 66 different nest boxes over a period of four years (2009-2013). We found no spatial autocorrelation between these nest boxes when analyzing both reproductive success and nest predation events. This indicates that our observations are independent from each other in space, and spatial variables are not driving reproductive success or predation, rather individual bird quality is likely the main driver for these differences.

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Subject Major(s)

Environmental Science, Biology


Prothonotaria Citrea, spatial autocorrelation, nest box productivity

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Lesley P Bulluck


© The Author(s)

Spatial Analysis of Nest Productivity and Predation in Prothonotary Warblers