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Toxin constraint explains diet choice, survival and population dynamics in a molluscivore shorebird
van Gils, J.A.; van der Geest, M.; Leyrer, J.; Oudman, T.; Lok, T.; Onrust, J.; de Fouw, J.; van der Heide, T.; van den Hout, P.J.; Spaans, B.; Dekinga, A.; Brugge, M.; Piersma, T. (2013). Toxin constraint explains diet choice, survival and population dynamics in a molluscivore shorebird. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 280(1763). http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.0861
In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 0962-8452, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • van Gils, J.A.; van der Geest, M.; Leyrer, J.; Oudman, T.; Lok, T.; Onrust, J.; de Fouw, J.; van der Heide, T.; van den Hout, P.J.; Spaans, B.; Dekinga, A.; Brugge, M.; Piersma, T. (2017). Toxin constraint explains diet choice, survival and population dynamics in a molluscivore shorebird, in: Oudman, T. Red knot habits : An optimal foraging perspective on intertidal life at Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania. pp. 32-53, more

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    diet choice; hydrogen sulphide; optimal foraging theory; predator-preyinteractions; survival rate; toxins

Authors  Top 
  • van Gils, J.A., more
  • van der Geest, M., more
  • Leyrer, J.
  • Oudman, T., more
  • Lok, T., more
  • Onrust, J.
  • de Fouw, J., more
  • van der Heide, T.
  • van den Hout, P.J., more
  • Spaans, B., more
  • Dekinga, A., more
  • Brugge, M., more
  • Piersma, T., more

Abstract
    Recent insights suggest that predators should include (mildly) toxic prey when non-toxic food is scarce. However, the assumption that toxic prey is energetically as profitable as non-toxic prey misses the possibility that non-toxic prey have other ways to avoid being eaten, such as the formation of an indigestible armature. In that case, predators face a trade-off between avoiding toxins and minimizing indigestible ballast intake. Here, we report on the trophic interactions between a shorebird (red knot, Calidris canutus canutus) and its two main bivalve prey, one being mildly toxic but easily digestible, and the other being non-toxic but harder to digest. A novel toxin-based optimal diet model is developed and tested against an existing one that ignores toxin constraints on the basis of data on prey abundance, diet choice, local survival and numbers of red knots at Banc d'Arguin (Mauritania) over 8 years. Observed diet and annual survival rates closely fit the predictions of the toxin-based model, with survival and population size being highest in years when the non-toxic prey is abundant. In the 6 of 8 years when the non-toxic prey is not abundant enough to satisfy the energy requirements, red knots must rely on the toxic alternative.

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