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1 May 2013 Expansion Into an Herbivorous Niche by a Customary Carnivore: Black-Tailed Godwits Feeding on Rhizomes of Zostera at a Newly Established Wintering Site
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Abstract

In expanding populations, individuals may increasingly be forced to use sites of relatively low quality. This process, named the “buffer effect,” was previously described for the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa islandica) in its use of nonbreeding sites in Great Britain and of breeding areas in Iceland. On the basis of diet analyses from droppings and stable isotopes, we describe a new case for the expanding French wintering population of the Black-tailed Godwit, an expansion accompanied by a drastic change in feeding strategy. In the 1990s, Black-tailed Godwits started using intertidal mudflats at Ile de Ré, where they eat the rhizomes of seagrass (Zostera noltii) rather than the customary shellfish (Macoma balthica) eaten at both the preferred (initial) site (Aiguillon Bay) and the area occupied last (Yves to Marennes-Oléron bays). Individually color-marked godwits appeared faithful to both diet type and site, suggesting a cost of a change of strategy. This represents a first case of rhizome-feeding in shorebirds, and it exemplifies a case of carnivorous birds occupying a new site shifting to herbivory.

© 2013 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp.
Frederic Robin, Frederic Robin, Theunis Piersma, Theunis Piersma, Francis Meunier, Francis Meunier, Pierrick Bocher, Pierrick Bocher, "Expansion Into an Herbivorous Niche by a Customary Carnivore: Black-Tailed Godwits Feeding on Rhizomes of Zostera at a Newly Established Wintering Site," The Condor 115(2), (1 May 2013). https://doi.org/10.1525/cond.2013.120053 . Submission: Received: 21 March 2012; Accepted: 1 September 2012
Received: 21 March 2012; Accepted: 1 September 2012; Published: 1 May 2013
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