1. Density dependence of avian reproduction has often been analysed using correlations between annual mean reproductive output and population density. Experiments are necessary to prove that density is the cause of the observed patterns, but so far, three out of four experimental studies do not support a direct causal effect of density on reproduction. 2. This paper presents experimental evidence that reproductive decisions in great tits, Parus major L., are causally affected by breeding density. The breeding density of great tits was manipulated by providing nest-boxes at different densities in an ecologically homogeneous area. 3. Within years the densities in the high and low density plots differed approximately 8-fold. During the 11 years of the experiment, clutch size, nestling mass and the proportion of birds starting a second brood were all lower in the high density plot. In 5 years with equal breeding densities in both parts, clutch size did not differ between the plots. The patterns found were consistent with the density effects as predicted from the non-experimental data. [KEYWORDS: clutch size; density dependence; density manipulation; Parus major; reproduction Flycatcher ficedula-hypoleuca; clutch-size; parus-major; interspecific competition; population fluctuations; food; survival; habitat; fitness; winter]
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Journal publication date1998

ID: 100674