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foraging ecology of seven species of neotropical ibises - Avibirds

foraging ecology of seven species of neotropical ibises - Avibirds

foraging ecology of seven species of neotropical ibises -

THEWILSONBULLETIN A QUARTERLY MAGAZINE OF ORNITHOLOGY Published by the Wilson Ornithological Society VOL. 104, No. 1 MARCH 1992 PAGES l-204 Wilson Bull., 104(l), 1992, pp. 1-21 FORAGING ECOLOGY OF SEVEN SPECIES OF NEOTROPICAL IBISES (THRESKIORNITHIDAE) DURING THE DRY SEASON IN THE LLANOS OF VENEZUELA PETER C. FREDERICK’ AND KEITH L. BILDSTEIN~ ABSTRACT.-we describe the relative abundance, foraging habitat, and feeding behavior of seven sympatric species of ibises (Threskiomithidae) in the Venezuelan llanos during the dry season of 1989. Scarlet (Eudocimus ruber), Glossy (Plegadis falcinellus), and Bare-faced (Phimosus infiscatus) ibises were the most common species. White (E. albus), Green (Mesembrinibis cayennensis), Sharp-tailed (Cercibis oxycerca), and Buff-necked (Theristicus caudatus) ibises together made up less than 8% of individuals surveyed. Multivariate analyses showed that differences in use of foraging habitat partitioned the foraging niche during the dry season, a time when little aquatic habitat is available to the birds. Foraging habitats used by the seven species were differentiated by decreasing distance to water, in the following order: Buff-necked (dry land), Sharp-tailed and Bare-faced (moist soil, occasionally in standing water), Green (water’s edge), and Scarlet, White, and Glossy ibises (nearly always in standing water). Probing depth, prey size, and height of vegetation further partitioned the niche. Large differences in capture, probing, and stepping rates were found among all species. There were no differences in foraging behavior or in foraging habitat between congeneric White and Scarlet ibises. Considerable overlap in foraging habitat in space and time was seen among the three aquatic foragers (White, Scarlet, Glossy), and aggression and occasional food robbery occurred among these species. Scarlet Ibises were most aggressive and were most likely to attempt food robbery. Received IO Dec. 1990, accepted 26 Sept. 1991. Of the approximately 25 species of ibises recognized worldwide (Anon- ymous 1984), seven occur sympatrically in the central wetland plains, or llanos, of Venezuela. This species diversity is unmatched elsewhere in the world and is sufficient to distinguish the ciconiiform avifauna of the region from that of other Central and North American wetlands (Kushlan et al. 1985). The Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), ’ Dept. of Wildlife and Range Sciences, 118 Newins-Ziegler Hall, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. z Dept. of Biology, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, South Carolina 29733, and Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208. 1

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