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Diet Shift and Its Impact on Foraging Behavior of Siberian Crane (Grus Leucogeranus) in Poyang Lake.

Authors
  • Jia, Yifei1
  • Jiao, Shengwu
  • Zhang, Yamian
  • Zhou, Yan
  • Lei, Guangchun
  • Liu, Guanhua
  • 1 Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China. , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
PLoS ONE
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
Volume
8
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065843
PMID: 23823943
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The study of habitat selection and diet has a long history in ecology. This is often used to assess the functional roles of wetland in biodiversity conservation. Shifting habitat and diet may be one of the survival strategies during extremely adverse conditions. Therefore, sudden changes in habitat selection may indicate the deterioration of the habitat quality, and management interventions are necessary. Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus) became critically endangered due to loss of habitat, and is currently a global conservation focus. Every winter, more than 95% of the species' global population congregates at Poyang Lake, and feeds on tubers of Vallisneria spiralis in shallow water and mudflat habitat. In this study, we reported the first sighting of large numbers of Siberian cranes foraging at wet meadows, where they fed on a different plant, Potentilla limprichtii due to extreme scarcity of their preferred tuber. To understand how well the cranes adapted to such unusual habitat, field surveys to assess the distribution of cranes across different habitats, and food availability in each habitat were carried out in the winter of 2011. Field observations on crane behaviors at different habitats were also conducted. Results show that cranes displayed significantly different behavior patterns when using the wet meadow, compared to the crane's optimal habitat - shallow water and mudflat. Both juveniles and adults spent significantly less time foraging, and more time alerting in meadows than in shallow waters and mudflats. These results indicated that the meadow might be a suboptimal wintering ground for Siberian crane, which helped the cranes survive from extreme unfavorable conditions. To some degree, this finding alleviates the general concern over the fluctuating of its food resources which was caused by hydrological disturbances. However, more studies are needed to assess the consequences of such diet and habitat shift for crane survival.

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