We investigated the simultaneous influence of benthic prey (primarily insect larvae, oligochaetes, and polychaetes) on spring-migrating shorebirds (Charadriiformes) and shorebirds on prey in brackish managed wetlands of South Carolina. We proposed that positive correlations between shorebird and prey densities and between prey reduction and shorebird density might result in a negative feedback loop. The loop would be characterized by shorebird redistribution over time and equalization of shorebird and prey densities (and biomass) across the site. In support of the feedback loop (i) there were positive correlations between shorebird and prey densities (and biomass) early in migration; (ii) shorebird predation was responsible for declines of 49% in prey density and 50% in prey biomass in a shorebird exclosure experiment, with shorebird density positively correlated with prey decline in open plots; (iii) there was equalization of prey biomass across the site, and relative prey species abundance appeared to become more equal. Contrary to predictions, shorebirds did not redistribute after prey reduction, and patchiness of shorebird and prey densities persisted across the site. This failure was attributed to high prey density, even at the season's end, and high water depths. There were no confounding indirect trophic-level effects.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Shorebird-prey interactions in South Carolina coastal soft-sediments|
|Series title||Canadian Journal of Zoology|
|Publisher||NRC Research Press|
|Contributing office(s)||Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center|