Factors influencing diet variation in a generalist predator across its range distribution

Julien Terraube, Beatriz Arroyo

Tutkimustuotos: ArtikkelijulkaisuArtikkeliTieteellinenvertaisarvioitu


Factors linked with intraspecific variation in trophic diversity are still poorly understood in generalist species like the Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus) but may have important implications for conservation management at a wide scale. We described geographic patterns of Montagu’s harrier diet across Eurasia, gathering diet data from 30 studies in 41 areas from 11 countries. We grouped prey as invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals, large mammals, eggs, small birds and large birds, and calculated the contribution of each prey type to the diet (as % biomass) and Shannon’s Diversity Index for each study site. We analysed qualitative estimates of prey abundance in relation to latitude and longitude, then diet composition in relation to habitat of the study area and prey abundance estimates. Diet diversity of Montagu’s harriers increased from north to south, while abundance of all prey groups other than small mammals showed the opposite trends. Agricultural areas in northern latitudes seemed to hold high densities of small mammals, but low densities of alternative prey. Overall, birds were the main prey in most of Montagu’s harrier’s distribution range, although the relative importance of each prey type in the diet was significantly explained by its local abundance and habitat, confirming the opportunistic foraging strategy of this raptor species. Consumption of mammals was an exception to this trend, being negatively associated with the abundance of alternative prey, suggesting that this prey is not preferred. Trophic diversity in this species could be influenced by land-use changes through variations in the abundance and availability of prey, which could impact its population dynamics. This may be particularly important for northern populations of Montagu’s harriers breeding in agricultural habitats, where trophic diversity is already low.
LehtiBiodiversity and Conservation
DOI - pysyväislinkit
TilaJulkaistu - 2011
Julkaistu ulkoisestiKyllä
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä, vertaisarvioitu


  • 1181 Ekologia, evoluutiobiologia
  • 1172 Ympäristötiede

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