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TROPHIC RELATIONSHIPS AND MECHANISMS OF ECOLOGICAL SEGREGATION AMONG HERON SPECIES IN THE PARANA RIVER FLOODPLAIN (BIRDS: ARDEIDAE) $100.00
Authors:  Adolfo H. Beltzer, Juan A. Schnack, Martín A. Quiroga, María de la Paz Ducommun , Ana Laura Ronchi Virgolini and Viviana alessio
Abstract:
Herons are one of the best represented families in the floodplain of
the Paraná River. The fact that interspecific competition constitutes the
most significant factor in resources distribution is a prevailing idea in the
ecological theory. According to recent studies, even though competition is important, the modeling of the community’s structure results from the
combined action of other factors which operate independently from the
interspecific interaction. The distribution of resources is closely related to
the ecological niche concept, this being the quantitative description of the
organic unit requirements. It is hypothesized in our work that the studied
species: Ardea cocoi (White-necked Heron), Butotides striatus (Striated
Heron), Bubulcus ibis (Cattle Egret), Ardea alba (Great Egret), Egretta
thula (Snowy Egret), Syrigma sibilatrix (Whistling Heron), Nycticorax
nycticorax (Black-crowned Night Heron), Tigrisoma lineatum (Fasciated
Tiger-Heron) and Ixobrychus involucris (Stripe-backed Bittern), despite
of the observed sympatry, have developed adaptative mechanisms of
ecological segregation. This allows these species to use the resources in
such a way that their diet composition (trophic sub niche) and other
parameters of their ecological requirements (temporal sub niche and
spatial sub niche) are differentiated. The index of relative importance was
applied to calculate the contribution of each food category to the diet of
each species. The trophic overlapping of the alimentary spectra,
accumulated trophic diversity, alimentary efficiency, dietary selectivity,
trophic spread of the niche, spatial sub niche and habitat preference were
estimated. As regards trophic spectrum, even though fishes were found to
be the basic diet for all four species and insects the second food category,
slight differences exist between them which would establish mechanisms
at the catches level. This is reinforced by the low overlapping values
obtained and the lack of significance in the selectivity values. Variations
concerning temporal and spatial sub niches were also obtained.
Summarizing, the coexistence is mainly based on the differential
utilization of the resources as basic isolation mechanisms and less subtly
on space and time. Without leaving aside the usefulness of further
research, we think these results provide valuable data for the
understanding of the Paraná complex system dynamics. 


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TROPHIC RELATIONSHIPS AND MECHANISMS OF ECOLOGICAL SEGREGATION AMONG HERON SPECIES IN THE PARANA RIVER FLOODPLAIN (BIRDS: ARDEIDAE)