Site selection and resource depletion in black-tailed godwits Limosa l. limosa eating rice during northward migration

Authors

  • Pedro M. Lourenço,

    Corresponding author
    1. Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750AA Haren, The Netherlands
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  • Freek S. Mandema,

    1. Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750AA Haren, The Netherlands
    2. Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Museu Nacional de História Natural, Rua da Escola Politécnica 58, 1250-102 Lisboa, Portugal
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    • Present address: Community and Conservation Ecology Group (COCON), Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750AA Haren, The Netherlands

  • Jos C.E.W. Hooijmeijer,

    1. Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750AA Haren, The Netherlands
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  • José P. Granadeiro,

    1. Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Museu Nacional de História Natural, Rua da Escola Politécnica 58, 1250-102 Lisboa, Portugal
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  • Theunis Piersma

    1. Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750AA Haren, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Marine Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
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Correspondence author. E-mail: p.m.g.lourenco@rug.nl

Summary

1. During migratory stopovers, animals are under strong time stress and need to maximize intake rates. We examine how foragers react to resource depletion by studying the foraging ecology and foraging site selection of black-tailed godwits Limosa l. limosa staging in rice fields during their northward migration stopover (January–March 2007).

2. We analysed godwit abundance and foraging behaviour, sampled the availability of rice in the fields and used the functional response model to predict the giving-up density (GUD) of rice kernels when godwits should give up a rice field. Sightings of individually colour-marked birds were used to verify whether individuals moving between rice fields confirmed the predicted GUD.

3. Black-tailed godwit intake rates at different rice densities fitted Holling’s functional response curve. The predicted GUD of rice necessary to balance allometric estimates of daily energy expenditure (DEE) and measured time budgets were confirmed by GUD measured in the field.

4. Individually marked birds moved towards rice fields with higher rather than lower rice densities more often than randomly expected. These birds increased the measured intake rates after this move.

5. Godwit foraging caused a decrease in the rice density of individual fields during the stopover period. Despite this, overall intake rates remained constant as godwits reacted to resource depletion by moving to a new foraging site as soon as their intake rate falls below the required levels to achieve DEE.

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