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Wind effects on prey availability: how northward migrating waders use brackish and hypersaline lagoons in the Sivash, Ukraine
Verkuil, Y.; Koolhaas, A.; van der Winden, J. (1993). Wind effects on prey availability: how northward migrating waders use brackish and hypersaline lagoons in the Sivash, Ukraine. Neth. J. Sea Res. 31(4): 359-374
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Brackish water

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  • Verkuil, Y.
  • Koolhaas, A.
  • van der Winden, J.

    Large numbers of waders migrating northward in spring use the Sivash, a large system of shallow, brackish and hypersaline lagoons in the Black Sea and Azov Sea region (Ukraine). The bottoms of these lagoons are often uncovered by the wind. Hence, for waders the time and space available for feeding depend on wind conditions. In hypersaline lagoons the benthic and pelagic fauna was very poor, consisting mainly of chironomid larvae (0.19 g AFDM·m-2) and brine shrimps Artemia salina, respectively. Brine shrimp abundance was correlated with salinity, wind force, wind direction and water depth. Dunlin Calidris alpina and curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea were the only species feeding on brine shrimp. As brine shrimp densities are higher in deeper water, smaller waders such as broad-billed sandpipers Limicola falcinellus are too short-legged to reach exploitable densities of brine shrimp. In brackish lagoons the benthic and pelagic fauna was rich, consisting of polychaetes, bivalves, gastropods, chironomid larvae, isopods and amphipods (8.9 to 30.5 g AFDM·m-2), but there were no brine shrimps. Prey biomass increased with the distance from the coast, being highest on the site that was most frequently inundated. Dunlin, broad-billed sandpiper and grey plover Pluvialis squatarola were the most abundant birds in the brackish lagoon. Due to the effects of wind-tides only a small area was usually available as a feeding site. Gammarus insensibilis was the alternative prey resource in the water layer, and their density varied with wind direction in the same way as brine shrimp. Curlew sandpipers and dunlins in the hypersaline lagoons and broad-billed sandpipers in the brackish lagoons often changed feeding sites, probably following the variation in prey availability. Only because of the large size and variety of lagoons are waders in the Sivash always able to find good feeding sites.

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