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Coastal wetlands that are diked and managed may supplement declining natural habitat for migrating shorebirds (Charadriiformes). However, data on shorebird diet in these diked wetlands are scarce. We examined shorebird diet and prey size selection in brackish diked wetlands at the Yawkey Center on South Island, South Carolina, USA. Gut contents of seven Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) and seven Short-billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus griseus) were examined. The most common items in gut contents were mandibles of the nereid polychaete, Laeonereis culveri, followed by insects. L. culveri eaten by Short-billed Dowitchers were significantly larger than those eaten by Lesser Yellowlegs. This difference may be related to differences in bill length and feeding tactics. We make suggestions on how to maintain high numbers of L. culveri in diked wetlands, but more research on the timing of colonization by invertebrates is needed in shorebird conservation efforts.
Additional Publication Details
Shorebird diet and size selection of nereid polychaetes in South Carolina coastal diked wetlands