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

e 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."


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

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