Breeding productivity, nest-site selection and conservation needs of the endemic Turkestan Ground-jay Podoces panderi

Robert J. Burnside* (Corresponding Author), Alex L. Brighten, Nigel J. Collar, Valentin Soldatov, Maxim Koshkin, Paul M. Dolman, Anna Ten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The Turkestan Ground-jay Podoces panderi, a corvid endemic to the deserts of Central Asia, is both understudied and under-protected. Using standardised nest-monitoring protocols and nest cameras, we estimated its breeding productivity for the first time as 0.586 fledglings per nesting attempt (inter-quartile range, IQR 0.413‒0.734), strongly constrained by a diverse set of predator species (accounting for 88% of failures), supporting the broad pattern that a wide spectrum of nest predators operate in arid environments. The probability of nest success for the 35 days from the start of incubation to fledging was low, 0.186 ± 0.06 se (N = 37), with no influence of season date, nest height or nest shrub species. However, pervasive shrub harvest severely limited availability of taller shrubs for nest-site selection, and thus our ability to detect any effect of height on nest survival. Mean clutch size was 4.8 ± 0.8 sd while hatching probability of an egg from a clutch surviving incubation was 0.800 ± 0.050 se and fledging probability was 0.824 ± 0.093 se for individual chicks in successful nests (i.e. that fledged one or more chicks). Two shrub genera, saxaul Haloxylon spp. and Calligonum spp., were used for nesting more frequently than expected (χ215 = 784.02, P < 0.001), highlighting their importance to breeding habitat suitability. This near-sole reliance on these taller shrub genera, both targeted for illegal cutting, indicates that habitat degradation may lead to increased predation and declines in productivity. Habitat conservation is, therefore, likely to be the most important management strategy for the species and other components of desert systems, as management of so diverse a set of nest predators would be both impractical and inappropriate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1183
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Early online date1 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements The Ornithological Society of the Middle East Conservation Fund and the University of East Anglia Environmental Sciences department together funded field transport. The Emirates Bird Breeding Center for Conservation gave logistical support, Dave Showler commented on the manuscript, and the Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI) contributed cameras for nest monitoring:
al-asian-desert-initiative-cadi-conservation-and-adaptive-use-of-winter-cold-deserts-in-central-asia-16_IV_052-486/. We are grateful to two
anonymous referees whose comments improved the final version of the paper

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this
study are available in the supplementary material.


  • Kyzylkum desert
  • Nest success
  • Fledging success
  • Nest predation
  • Saxaul Ground-jay
  • Pander’s Ground-jay


Dive into the research topics of 'Breeding productivity, nest-site selection and conservation needs of the endemic Turkestan Ground-jay Podoces panderi'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this