Effect of forager density on feeding rates in spring-staging Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) using different foraging modes

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We examined the influence of the density of foragers on feeding rates of Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla (Linnaeus, 1766)) while using different foraging modes at a spring stopover site in Delaware Bay, USA. Using dynamic estimates of interindividual distances obtained at short intervals of time, we explored how forager density affected feeding rates when Semipalmated Sandpipers used visual pecking or tactile probing. Pecking rate significantly increased with interindividual distances, whereas probe rate was not affected by density. Our study also showed that in fast-moving foragers, such as Semipalmated Sandpipers, in which the number of nearby foragers and distance to the nearest neighbour continuously change throughout the foraging bout, pecking rates are more affected by nearest neighbour distance than by the number of foragers in their immediate vicinity. In addition, our study implies that foragers using different foraging modes might be differently affected by nearby competitors perhaps in response to prey disturbance by neighbours.

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Canadian Journal of Zoology

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