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Pleistocene to recent dietary shifts in California condors.

Authors
  • Cp, Chamberlain
  • Jr, Waldbauer
  • K, Fox-Dobbs
  • Sd, Newsome
  • Pl, Koch
  • Don Smith
  • Me, Church
  • Sd, Chamberlain
  • Kj, Sorenson
  • R, Risebrough
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume
102
Issue
46
Source
UCSC Aging biomedical-ucsc
License
Unknown

Abstract

We used carbon and nitrogen isotopes to investigate changes in the diet of California condors from the Pleistocene to the recent. During the Pleistocene, condors from California fed on both terrestrial megafauna and marine mammals. Early accounts reported condors feeding on the carcasses of marine mammals, but by the late 1700s, condor diets had shifted predominantly to terrestrial animals, following the commercial harvesting of marine mammals and the development of cattle ranching on land. At present, dairy calves provided by humans significantly augment condor diet, constituting an artificial support of the current population. Reestablishing a marine mammal component in the condor diet may be an effective strategy for fostering viable condor populations independent of direct human subsidies.

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