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Effect of diet differences and non-native prey consumption on the productivity of small herons

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Date Issued:
2018
Abstract/Description:
Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Tricolored Herons that nest in the Everglades have declined sharply over the past decade, due in part to food resource limitations. Here, I examined the diet of small herons to determine how prey characteristics affected the fitness of small herons in the highly modified Florida Everglades. Analysis of these diet differences showed birds nesting in 2017, a hydrologically dryer-than average year, and a more taxonomically varied diet were associated with nest success and improved body condition of nestlings. Over half (51%) of the fish biomass Little Blue Herons consumed were non-native species, compared to 14% and 19% non-native fish biomass consumed by Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons, respectively. Surprisingly, <7% of fish biomass available in the Everglades were comprised of non-native fish species, suggesting that small herons, and Little Blue Herons in particular, may be using alternative foraging habitats, to supplement their dietary needs.
Title: Effect of diet differences and non-native prey consumption on the productivity of small herons.
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Name(s): Jackson, Ashley Elizabeth, author
Gawlik, Dale E., Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Center for Environmental Studies
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2018
Date Issued: 2018
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 109 p.
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Tricolored Herons that nest in the Everglades have declined sharply over the past decade, due in part to food resource limitations. Here, I examined the diet of small herons to determine how prey characteristics affected the fitness of small herons in the highly modified Florida Everglades. Analysis of these diet differences showed birds nesting in 2017, a hydrologically dryer-than average year, and a more taxonomically varied diet were associated with nest success and improved body condition of nestlings. Over half (51%) of the fish biomass Little Blue Herons consumed were non-native species, compared to 14% and 19% non-native fish biomass consumed by Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons, respectively. Surprisingly, <7% of fish biomass available in the Everglades were comprised of non-native fish species, suggesting that small herons, and Little Blue Herons in particular, may be using alternative foraging habitats, to supplement their dietary needs.
Identifier: FA00013072 (IID)
Degree granted: Thesis (M.S.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2018.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): Herons
Florida--Everglades.
Herons--Ecology.
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00013072
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author, with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Owner Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.