Food niche segregation between the Malachite Kingfisher, Alcedo cristata, and the Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis, at Lake Nokoué, Bénin

Ostrich - Journal of African Ornithology (Impact Factor: 0.47). 11/2009; March 1:32-38. DOI: 10.2989/00306520409485409

ABSTRACT Several species of kingfisher occur on Lake Nokoué, southern Bénin, including Malachite (Alcedo cristata) and Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis). Here, we compare their diet and estimate the degree of overlap in food niche by analysing contents of regurgitated pellets collected near nesting sites of Pied Kingfishers or inside the nest chambers of Malachite Kingfishers. Characteristic fish skull bones were identified using a reference collection of local fish skeletons. Malachite Kingfishers feed most frequently on fish that occur around floating vegetation, mainly Kribia sp. (56%), Hemichromis fasciatus (28%) and Sarotherodon melanotheron (8%). Important differences were found between different pairs, and between adults and nestlings, the latter being fed almost exclusively on Kribia sp. Larger fish are fed to nestlings than are eaten by the adults. Pied Kingfishers prey upon 14 different fish species, some of them being caught in the pelagic region of the lake, particularly clupeids taken by hovering. By comparison with Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers feed on a wider diversity of prey, and take larger fish, so that the dietary overlap between the species is relatively low (O = 0.181).

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    ABSTRACT: The Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis and the Greater Pied Kingfisher Ceryle lugubris breed sympatrically along the Chikuma River in central Japan. These kingfisher species differ in body size, with the latter being much larger than the former. To understand the potential mechanisms that might play a role in food-niche differentiation between these two species, we studied their foraging ecology in the breeding seasons of 2005 and 2006. Specifically, we compared the foraging habitat, foraging behavior, and food delivered to nestlings between the two kingfishers. We video-recorded the food delivered to nestlings during the day, and our results indicated that these species differed in their foraging ecology in several respects: (1) Common Kingfishers caught prey at sites where the water flow was calm, while Greater Pied Kingfishers hunted at sites where the water flowed rapidly; (2) Greater Pied Kingfishers dove from a higher position and caught fish in deeper water than Common Kingfishers; and (3) Common Kingfishers preferred smaller fish than Greater Pied Kingfishers. Overall, Common Kingfishers used a wider variety of foraging sites and food types than Greater Pied Kingfishers in the study area. As inter-specific territorially and aggressive interactions between the two species were rarely observed, the food-niche differentiation between the two species was not likely the outcome of competitive exclusion. We conclude that the realized food-niches of the two kingfisher species reflect their respective body sizes.
    ORNITHOLOGICAL SCIENCE 09/2009; · 0.34 Impact Factor
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    African Journal of Ecology 07/2007; 46(3):424 - 427. · 1.00 Impact Factor

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