New paper on ecology of Golden plover chicks

Machín et al. 2017

We are very happy to share with you the publication of our last paper: “Habitat selection, diet and food availability of European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria chicks in Swedish Lapland”. It has been a long way but it is finally here!! Click here!

This study shows the prey preferences of Golden plover chicks in the alpine tundra in northern Sweden, as well as their habitat use and food availability. Interestingly, a peak of bibios (Bibionidae, also known as marsh flies) at the end of the season in 2011, made the chicks change their diet to practically only feed on them, so we highlight the importance of this seasonal effects on the food availability, ergo diet, survival and growth of the chicks. We also show that plovers in Lapland do not have Tipulids (Crane Flies) as their favorite prey, as it happens to be in another population (UK), where chicks rely on them.

We are recently working on the second part of this story, analysing which factors influence the growth of the chicks. Hope to show it to you soon!

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Phalarope count and food in the fridge!

Most of the ponds up on the tundra are still frozen. Species dependent on them are therefore still waiting for them to thaw. Among them are Red-necked Phalaropes. This is a small wader that feeds mostly swimming and winters on the ocean. There is a huge flock of phalaropes feeding (and waiting…) at the lake near the village. Today we counted little over 300 individuals! Arctic Terns were surface dipping between them. What would they be feeding on?

Arctic Tern on the ice

Up on the tundra, small arthropods start to emerge. While the snow cover is still around 80% in some parts of the study area, mainly rove beetles (Staphylinidae) increasingly are seen on the snow following air channels created by penetrating shrubs to forage on microarthropods, such as springtails (Collembola) and mites (Acari). These tiny creatures climb from the ground upwards, through little pores of the snow cristals. Higher up in the food web, waders feed on these tiny invertebrates. Maybe birds with longer bills have an advantage finding food at an early stage on the tundra where most parts are cover by snow or ice layers, probing the snow with their bill to catch the hidden invertebrates.

Temminck´s stint foraging on the snow