Forager (predator) abundance may mediate feeding rates in wading birds. Yet, when modeled, feeding rates are typically derived from the purely prey-dependent Holling Type II (HoII) functional response model. Estimates of feeding rates are necessary to evaluate wading bird foraging strategies and their role in food webs; thus, models that incorporate predator dependence warrant consideration. Here, data collected in a mangrove swamp in Puerto Rico in 1994 were reanalyzed, reporting feeding rates for mixed-species flocks after comparing fits of the HoII model, as used in the original work, to the Beddington-DeAngelis (BD) and Crowley-Martin (CM) predator-dependent models. Model CM received most support (AIC c wi = 0.44), but models BD and HoII were plausible alternatives (AIC c ??? 2). Results suggested that feeding rates were constrained by predator abundance. Reductions in rates were attributed to interference, which was consistent with the independently observed increase in aggression as flock size increased (P < 0.05). Substantial discrepancies between the CM and HoII models were possible depending on flock sizes used to model feeding rates. However, inferences derived from the HoII model, as used in the original work, were sound. While Holling's Type II and other purely prey-dependent models have fostered advances in wading bird foraging ecology, evaluating models that incorporate predator dependence could lead to a more adequate description of data and processes of interest. The mechanistic bases used to derive models used here lead to biologically interpretable results and advance understanding of wading bird foraging ecology.
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Functional response models to estimate feeding rates of wading birds