Publication Details

Chard, M., French, K., Martin, J. & Major, R. E. (2018). Rain drives foraging decisions of an urban exploiter. PLoS One, 13 (4), e0194484-1-e0194484-14.


Foraging decisions tend to drive individuals toward maximising energetic gains within a patchy environment. This study aims to determine the extent to which rainfall, and associated changes in food availability, can explain foraging decisions within a patchy urbanised landscape, using the Australian white ibis as a model species. Ibis density, food consumption rates and food abundance (both natural and anthropogenic) were recorded during dry and wet weather within urban parks in Sydney, Australia. Rainfall influenced ibis density in these urban parks. Of the four parks assessed, the site with the highest level of anthropogenic food and the lowest abundance of natural food (earthworms), irrespective of weather, was observed to have three times the density of ibis. Rainfall significantly increased the rate of earthworm consumption as well as their relative availability in all sites. Overall, these density and consumption measures indicate that anthropogenic derived foods, mainly from d irect feeding by people, explain the apparent distribution of ibis across urban parks. However, there was evidence of prey-switching when the availability of natural foods increased following rainfall, perhaps reflecting selection of particular nutrients.



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