CIE Spotlight: Breeding habitat selection in an obligate beach bird: a test of the food resource hypothesis

Mike Weston

Mike W.

Title: Breeding habitat selection in an obligate beach bird: a test of the food resource hypothesis

Authors: Cuttriss, Anna; Maguire, Grainne S.; Ehmke, Glenn; Weston, Michael A.

Source: MARINE AND FRESHWATER RESEARCH, 66 (9):841-846, March 2015

Brief summary of the paper: The food resource hypothesis of breeding habitat selection in beach-nesting birds suggests that birds breed at sites with more prey to meet the increased energetic requirements associated with breeding.

We compare prey resources using pitfall traps and core samples at breeding sites and absence sites of the eastern population of hooded plover,Thinornis rubricollis rubricollis, which, in this part of its range, is a threatened obligate beach bird.

Breeding sites had higher abundances, equivalent species richness, and different assemblages of invertebrate prey compared with absence sites. Assemblages at breeding sites were characterised by more isopods, and fewer beetles of the family Phycosecidae.

Breeding habitat selection by plovers appears to be associated with selection for sites with more food, and any process that degrades food resources at a site (e.g. kelp harvesting or marine pollution events) may reduce the likelihood of occupancy of that site by breeding birds.