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Keywords:

  • Aceros undulatus;
  • Anthracoceros albirostris;
  • Arunachal Pradesh;
  • Buceros bicornis;
  • foraging;
  • frugivory;
  • fruit availability;
  • hornbills;
  • nonbreeding season;
  • northeast India;
  • resource partitioning;
  • sympatry

ABSTRACT

The diet and food resource partitioning of three sympatric hornbills (Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus, and Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris) during the nonbreeding season were studied relative to fruit availability in a foothill semievergreen forest of Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India. Hornbills fed on fruits of 49 plant species that comprised over 95 percent of their diet. Hornbill species partitioned food resources by varying the relative contribution of figs and non-fig fruits in the diet. Similarity in non-fig fruit diet was low. Ten species contributed to over 90 percent of the non-fig diet. The availability of non-fig fruits was much lower in the nonbreeding season than in the breeding season; however, despite lower fruit availability during the nonbreeding season, hornbills had a wide diet breadth and indirect evidence suggests that Wreathed Hornbills foraged widely in this season for fruit. Great Hornbills relied more on figs that were available year-round. The diverse diet breadth that included rare and patchy fruit resources underscores the importance of conserving large forest tracts for hornbills.