The feeding ecology of breeding gadwalls (Anas strepera) from saline wetlands in North Dakota was examined in relation to sex, pair mates, reproductive status, food availability, and wetland type during the spring and summer of 1971 and 1972. Esophagi of males and females contained 40.4 and 48.2 percent animal food, respectively, between 17 April and 25 August. Animal foods consumed by paired females varied with reproductive condition and were independent of their mates. Invertebrates increased from 47.7 i?? 17.4 percent in the diet during prelaying to 72.0 i?? 18.4 percent during laying and declined to 46.3 i?? 30.0 percent during postlaying. Aquatic insects dominated the diet during egg-laying and were selected disproportionately relative to their availability. Esophageal contents indicated that diversity of plant and animal foods in the diet varied inversely with specific conductance. Major factors influencing food selection of the breeding birds are discussed as interactions among their physiological status, their anatomical and behavioral characteristics, and the abundance and behavior of food organisms as influenced by chemical and physical features of the environment. The data suggested that these interrelated ecological factors act simultaneously to control the phenology of events and determine the foods utilized.
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Feeding ecology of breeding gadwalls on saline wetlands