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What determines the densities of feeding birds on tidal flats? A case study on dunlin, Calidris alpina, In the Wadden Sea
Nehls, G.; Tiedemann, R. (1993). What determines the densities of feeding birds on tidal flats? A case study on dunlin, Calidris alpina, In the Wadden Sea. Neth. J. Sea Res. 31(4): 375-384
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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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Nehls, G.
  • Tiedemann, R.

Abstract
    The tidal and seasonal pattern of habitat utilization by dunlin was studied in a tidal-flat area in a shallow bay called Konigshafen, island of Sylt, by counting the number of dunlins on marked plots at 10-min intervals over whole tidal cycles. Sediment type, tidal elevation, and seasonal changes in food choice were found to influence the feeding densities of dunlin irrespective of total numbers present in the area. Densities of dunlin were generally highest on low muddy substrates. A preference for high sandy substrates was found in late summer. The tidal pattern of habitat utilization differed between areas. In preferred areas dunlin stayed during the whole emersion period. Other areas were only used by following the moving tide line. Seasonal changes in habitat utilization were apparently triggered by changes in food choice. In spring dunlin fed almost exclusively on polychaetes. In late summer a relatively high proportion of shrimps, Crangon crangon, was found in the diet of dunlins. The preference for shrimps may force the birds to stay away from the tide line, where the shrimps can escape into deeper waters. It is recommended that studies on habitat utilization on tidal flats should consider the tidal behaviour of the target species, as single low-tide counts may not give valid results.

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