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1 March 2015 Social Cues and Environmental Conditions Influence Foraging Flight Distances of Breeding Wood Storks (Mycteria americana)
Garth Herring, Heidi K. Herring, Dale E. Gawlik
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The influence of both environmental conditions and social cues on the distance flown to foraging sites was examined for breeding Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) in the Florida Everglades, USA. Adult Wood Storks (n= 73) were followed in a small plane from their nesting colony to their foraging locations during the time when adult Wood Storks were incubating and feeding chicks. On average, foraging sites were close to the nesting colony (mean = 9.6 km ± 1.1), and in shallow water (mean = 9.9 cm ± 0.7) that was receding at a moderate rate (-0.36 cm/day ± 0.13). Wood Storks landed at foraging sites already occupied by other white wading birds 99% of the time, with a mean flock size of 64 ± 14 birds. Model selection identified flock size and water recession rate as the most important variables that influenced Wood Stork foraging flight distances. Distances flown to foraging sites increased with increasing flock sizes and decreased with increasing recession rates (increasing by 39% and decreasing by 18% across the observed range of data, respectively) while accounting for colony location and water depths. These findings are particularly important because they demonstrate that both social and environmental factors play critical roles in the foraging site selection process Wood Storks use during the breeding season. Further, these results in part can be linked to management activities because at least in the case of water recession rates, managers can actively influence recession rates across much of the Everglades landscape.

Garth Herring, Heidi K. Herring, and Dale E. Gawlik "Social Cues and Environmental Conditions Influence Foraging Flight Distances of Breeding Wood Storks (Mycteria americana)," Waterbirds 38(1), 30-39, (1 March 2015).
Received: 21 June 2014; Accepted: 18 August 2014; Published: 1 March 2015

foraging site selection
Mycteria americana
Wood Stork
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