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Habitat heterogeneity and climatic seasonality structure the avifauna trophic guilds in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland

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Abstract:

Landscape heterogeneity and annual flood pulses characterize the Brazilian Pantanal, the largest floodplain in South America. The objective of this work was to explain spatial and temporal variations in the trophic structure of a bird assemblage consisting of 316 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds, out of which 88 are visitors. The food items potentially consumed by these species were combined into 12 trophic guilds and were compared based on habitats (terrestrial or aquatic), periods of the year, and visitor or resident species. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling was used to determine which trophic guilds characterize the different habitats and months. The habitats were separated into a gradient of trophic guild similarity ranging from woodlands to purely aquatic, with swamps and floodable fields in intermediate positions. Species that consume invertebrates and plants predominate in the terrestrial habitats, whereas the consumption of terrestrial and (or) aquatic invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants predominate in the aquatic habitats. The monthly similarities in trophic structure vary with rainfall, and the period of receding waters is characterized by an increase in the number of species in guilds that consume nectar, invertebrates, vertebrates, and (or) plant parts obtained or captured in the drying landscape and terrestrial habitats. Visitor species do not exploit new resource types; instead they accommodate themselves in the pre-existing trophic guilds.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/z11-099

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Antônio Carlos 6627, Pampulha, CEP 30161-970, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil. 2: Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Conservação e Manejo de Vida Silvestre(PG-ECMVS), Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, CEP 30161-970, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil. 3: Laboratório de Comportamento Animal, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto Central de Ciências, Universidade de Brasília, CEP 70910-900, Brasília, DF, Brasil.

Publication date: December 16, 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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