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Title: The feeding strategy of the dunlin (Calidris alpina L.) in artificial and non-artificial habitats at Ria de Aveiro, Portugal
Author: Luís, A.
Goss-Custard, J. D.
Moreira, M. H.
Keywords: Waders
Natural mudflats
Salt pans
High tide feeding
Ria de Aveiro
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Abstract: Usually waders (Aves, Charadrii) feed in the inter-tidal zone over the low tide period and roost over high tide. But occasionally when their energetic needs increase, due to adverse weather conditions or to a need to store fat to fuel migration, the birds also feed during high tide, sometimes in agricultural land. At the Ria de Aveiro, about 44% (corresponding to 4500 birds) of the wintering dunlin (Calidris alpina) use artificial salt pan habitats throughout the winter whilst the others utilize natural intertidal habitats, mainly mudflats. The dunlin that feed intertidally in natural areas, such as the Canal de Mira, do not feed over high tide. In contrast, the birds that use the salt pan area feed both during low tide, in abandoned salt pans whose walls are breached and thus allow access to the tide, and high tide, in active salt pans, and keep on doing so throughout the winter. The energetic needs of both groups of birds are thought to be similar. However, the benthos of the abandoned salt pans seem to be different, and poorer in energetic terms, from those of the natural mudflats. It is argued that dunlin wintering in the salt pan area must compensate for this by feeding over high tide in active salt pans. Rather than just being a means of obtaining more energy at certain times of high energy demand, it would seem that feeding in active salt pans over high tide should be considered as a normal component of the feeding strategy of these birds, a strategy that is different from those wintering in the natural mudflats. These findings highlight the importance of the salt exploitation industry to waders and also show that artificial habitats can support large numbers of wintering waders.
Peer review: yes
DOI: 10.1023/a:1020339409151
ISSN: 0018-8158
Appears in Collections:Ria de Aveiro - Artigos

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