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Delivery of Common Lizards (Zootoca (Lacerta) vivipara) to nests of Eurasian Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) determined by solar height and ambient temperature

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Abstract:

Recent development in video monitoring has allowed collecting of data on prey deliveries at raptor nests, and this offers an opportunity to relate prey selection to short-term changes in environmental factors on a scale of hours. Whereas raptors may specialize on ectothermic prey at southern latitudes, only some generalist raptors may include such prey in their diet at northern latitudes. In particular, at northern latitudes the activity pattern of ectothermic reptiles is strongly dependent on the prevailing weather conditions. To test whether this dependence affects the exposure of reptiles to raptors, we used video recording of prey deliveries at nests of the Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus L., 1758) at 61°N in Norway, where the Common Lizard (Zootoca (Lacerta) vivipara (Jacquin, 1787)) is the only lizard available to kestrels. The probability that a prey item delivered at a kestrel nest was a lizard increased towards midday and also increased independently with increasing ambient temperature, which on average, was 20.2 °C when lizards were delivered compared with 15.7 °C when other types of prey were delivered. Thus, the delivery of lizards by kestrels in our study may be regarded as a functional response, where the abundance of lizards is determined by solar height and ambient temperature.

Des progrès récents en surveillance vidéo permettent la récolte de données sur l’approvisionnement des proies dans les nids de rapaces, ce qui donne l’occasion de mettre en relation la sélection des proies et les changements à court terme dans les facteurs de l’environnement à l'échelle des heures. Alors que certains rapaces peuvent se spécialiser pour les proies ectothermes aux latitudes du sud, seuls quelques rapaces généralistes peuvent inclure de telles proies dans leur régime aux latitudes nordiques. En particulier, aux latitudes nordiques, les patrons d’activité des reptiles ectothermes dépendent fortement des conditions climatiques courantes. Afin de vérifier si cette dépendance affecte l’exposition des reptiles aux rapaces, nous utilisons des enregistrements vidéo d’approvisionnements de proies dans des nids de faucons crécerelles (Falco tinnunculus L., 1758) à 61°N en Norvège, où le lézard commun (Zootoca (Lacerta) vivipara (Jacquin, 1787)) est le seul lézard disponible aux crécerelles. La probabilité qu’une proie livrée aux nids de crécerelles soit un lézard augmente vers le milieu de la journée et elle augmente aussi de façon indépendante lorsque la température ambiante s'éleve; cette température est en moyenne de 20,2 °C lors de la livraison des lézards, par rapport à 15,7 °C lors de la livraison des autres types de proies. Ainsi, la livraison de lézards par les crécerelles dans notre étude peut être considérée comme une réponse fonctionnelle, dans laquelle l’abondance des lézards est fonction de la hauteur du soleil et de la température ambiante.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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