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Trophic ecology of the African Black Oystercatcher (haematopus-moquini) on the Southern African rocky shores, in relation with it’s habitat variability

Abstract : The distribution of intertidal benthic species is constrained by coastal oceanography. Less is known about the effects on the ecology of predators. Along the southern coasts of Africa the two main currents constraint both the patterns of primary production and the structure of benthic communities. The top predator on these coasts is an endemic shorebird, the African Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini), which exhibits a polymorphism favourable for food specialization. This study investigates the effect of spatial variations in benthic community structure on the feeding ecology of oystercatchers using stable isotopes. Birds respond to changes in quality and quantity of prey at multiple scales. At large scale they show strong contrasts between west and southwest coasts where the diet is dominated by mussels, including the invasive species Mytilus galloprovincialis, and south-east shores where a mixture of mussels and limpets is consumed. Locally individuals show weak dietary differences related to relative abundances of mussels and limpets. This reflects the generalist foraging behaviour of the species and the release of intra-specific competition for resources. The dietary shift of H. moquini on the west coast toward the invasive mussel and the multiplicity of foraging behaviours elsewhere reveal strong capacities to face changes in its foraging habitat. On the other hand the degradation of beaches by humans increases the competition for space and today affects the reproductive success of the species
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  • HAL Id : tel-00688119, version 1

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Sophie Kohler. Trophic ecology of the African Black Oystercatcher (haematopus-moquini) on the Southern African rocky shores, in relation with it’s habitat variability. Agricultural sciences. Université de la Réunion, 2011. English. ⟨NNT : 2011LARE0005⟩. ⟨tel-00688119⟩

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