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Diet of Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) in an estuarine environment
Barquete, V.; Bugoni, L.; Vooren, C.M. (2008). Diet of Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) in an estuarine environment. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 153(3): 431-443.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
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  • Barquete, V.
  • Bugoni, L.
  • Vooren, C.M.

    The diet of the Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) was studied by analysing 289 regurgitated pellets collected from a roosting site at Lagoa dos Patos estuary, southern Brazil, between November 2001 and October 2002 (except April to June). In total, 5,584 remains of prey items from 20 food types were found. Fish composed the bulk of the diet representing 99.9% by mass and 99.7% by number. The main food items were White croaker (Micropogonias furnieri) (73.7% by frequency of occurrence, 48.9% by mass and 41.2% by number), followed by Catfish (Ariidae) and anchovies (Engraulididae). In Lagoa dos Patos estuary the generalist Neotropic cormorant fed mainly on the two most abundant demersal fishes (White croaker and Catfish), which accounted for the low niche breadth calculated. The total length of all fish preyed varied from 27.2 to 318.3 mm (113.5 ± 48.0 mm), and preyed White croakers’ size differed between months. Neotropic cormorants seem to prey on most abundant class sizes of White croaker instead of selecting similar prey size throughout the time. However, temporary changes in diet in terms of food items, abundance and prey size were detected, revealing a high ecological plasticity of the species. Individual daily food intake of Neotropic cormorants estimated by pellets and metabolic equations corresponded to 23.7 and 27.1% of their body mass, falling in the range of other cormorant species. Annual food consumption of the population estimated by both methods was 73.4 and 81.9 tonnes, comprising mainly immature and subadult White croaker and Catfish which are commercially important. Temporal variations in diet composition and fish size preyed by Neotropics cormorants, a widespread and generalist species, suggest shifts according to fluctuations in the abundance of prey. The plasticity of this cormorant is also revealed by their ability to adjust feeding behaviour in response to temporal or local changes in the environment, from a generalist at the species level to a specialist at the individual or local population level.

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