Navigation Links
Environmental change impacts on migratory shorebirds differ for males and females
Date:3/11/2013

Extensive shell fishing and sewerage discharge in river estuaries could have serious consequences for the rare Icelandic black-tailed godwits that feed there. But it is the males that are more likely to suffer, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Research published today in the journal Ecology and Evolution reveals very different winter feeding habits between the sexes.

Both males and females mainly consume bivalve molluscs, sea snails and marine worms, probing vigorously into soft estuary mud with their long beaks. But the study shows that females, which are larger and have longer bills, are able to peck further into the silt to secure larger, deeper buried prey in areas that the shorter-billed males cannot reach. This means that human impacts on estuaries may have different impacts on males and females, depending on which prey sizes are most affected.

The godwit is a large, long-legged, long-billed migratory shorebird. It breeds almost exclusively in Iceland and winters on western European coasts, from the UK and Ireland in the north to the Iberian Peninsula in the south.

The 15-year study saw researchers weigh, measure, sex and ring-tag 1287 birds at locations including the Solent, the Wash Estuary in East Anglia, Iceland and Portugal. More than 2,000 volunteer observers took part in determining where males and females spend the winter, and the researchers measured what the birds were feeding on, how deeply they forage, and how quickly they find, catch and eat their prey.

Dr Jos Alves from UEA's school of Biological Sciences lead the research. He said: "We knew that females can be as much as 18 per cent larger than the males but we wanted to see what impact this difference had on their migration, feeding and segregation patterns.

"We found that the difference didn't have any impact on their distribution across the wintering area, as both sexes are able to cover the same distances. But we did find that they segregate into different foraging areas on estuary mudflats during winter.

"This is because they are selecting different types and sizes of prey to feed on. Because the females are larger, they need more food. Luckily they are also able to dig deeper and feed on larger prey particularly the ragworm, Hediste diversicolor, and specifically on large size classes of this marine worm.

"But the smaller males are restricted by their bill size and are only able to dig out and eat smaller prey particularly Scrobicularia plana, which is a bivalve mollusc, and smaller worms. Therefore, the amount of sexual segregation depends on the scale and variety of prey available at different sites.

"This could have knock-on effects because any environmental impacts on their food chain will affect the sexes in different ways," added Dr Alves

"In particular, the highest abundances of large ragworms tend to be found in mudflats with high levels of wastewater discharge, and females then prefer to forage on these sites. Ongoing improvements in wastewater discharging are likely to mean that large worms become less abundant, forcing the females to forage elsewhere.

"The black-tailed godwit is classified as 'near threatened' so this research will be important for future conservation work for the species."


'/>"/>

Contact: Lisa Horton
l.horton@uea.ac.uk
44-016-035-92764
University of East Anglia
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Effects of environmental toxicants reach down through generations
2. Reproductive health providers should discuss environmental exposure risks with patients
3. Environmental factors in Tiny Tims near fatal illness
4. Increasing water scarcity in Californias Bay-Delta will necessitate trade-offs; hard decisions needed to balance various environmental risks
5. Stomata development in plants unraveled -- a valuable discovery for environmental research
6. Long-term research reveals causes and consequences of environmental change
7. New museum-university partnership ushers in new era of environmental science education
8. Tiny plants could cut costs, shrink environmental footprint
9. Wells Fargo fosters environmental conservation through University of Miamis RJD program
10. Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated, new study reveals
11. Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge shortlists 2012 projects
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Environmental change impacts on migratory shorebirds differ for males and females
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2017 Australian stem cell and regenerative medicine ... signed an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology Network, ... Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... study to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal stem ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung condition ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... Spanien, 27. Februar 2017  EyeLock LLC, ein marktführendes ... seine erstklassige biometrische Lösung zur Iris-Erkennung auf ... X16 LTE auf dem Mobile World Congress ... Qualcomm-Stand in Halle 3, Stand 3E10, vorstellen. ... Sicherheitsplattform Qualcomm Haven™ – eine Kombination aus ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... -- With the biometrics market to exceed $10 ... that innovative and agile startups must incorporate into ... changing competitive landscape: multifactor authentication (MFA), point-of-sale (PoS), ... "Companies can no longer afford to cut corners ... Pavlakis , Industry Analyst at ABI Research. "Pairing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- Agenus Inc. (NASDAQ: AGEN), an immuno-oncology company with ... today announced participation at the following conferences: ... Maidstone Life Sciences conference "Cancer Immunotherapy Conference" at the ... York, NY . Agenus will participate in three ... Robert B. Stein , M.D., Ph.D., President, R&D ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Northwest Biotherapeutics (OTCQB: NWBO) (NW ... therapies for solid tumor cancers, today announced that ... it announced last Friday, March 17, 2017. ... investors securities totaling 28,843,692 shares, comprised of 18,843,692 ... shares of Class C Warrants pre-funded at the ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , ... March 23, 2017 , ... ... recently selected by the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) as a 2017 Women of ... thirteenth annual Women of Innovation Awards Dinner. , The dinner recognizes women accomplished ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017  Agriculture technology company ... A financing and note conversion to commercialize its Cool ... is focused on developing products that are simultaneously profitable ... million in the last 18 months. This latest round ... Bridge Venture Partners. The company,s primary ...
Breaking Biology Technology: