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Virtual duck bills demonstrate species coexistence

een the lamellae on the upper and lower bill, which allows them to determine the size of the particles they filter and ingest. By avoiding particle sizes that contain too much detritus, ducks increase their foraging efficiency."

However Gurd found that avoiding detritus reduces the rate at which ducks can filter water. "It is this trade-off between avoiding detritus and foraging rate that allows ducks to partition resources" said Gurd. "Ducks with long lamellae are more efficient at selecting smaller food particles while ducks with short lamellae, like mallards, are more efficient at selecting larger particles."

To test his idea, Gurd created virtual bills using computer software typically used by engineers to design complex machinery. "The software allowed me to create exact, three-dimensional replicas of duck bills complete with articulating joints" said Gurd. "The replicas allowed me to determine the particle sizes each duck could ingest and the rate at which they could ingest them."

D. Brent Gurd, "Predicting resource partitioning and community organization of filter-feeding dabbling ducks from functional morphology" American Naturalist 169:334-343 (2007)


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Source:University of Chicago Press Journals


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