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The role of toxic compounds in bivalves in shaping the foraging behavior of the red knot in Banc d’Arguin

Kühn, Saskia (2018) The role of toxic compounds in bivalves in shaping the foraging behavior of the red knot in Banc d’Arguin. Master's Research Project 1, Ecology and Evolution.


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The red knot subspecies Calidris canutus canutus experiences a declining trend along their flyway from their breeding grounds in Siberia to their feeding grounds with high mortality in Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania. Here, knots face a trade-off between prey that limits intake rates due to shell processing rates in the gizzard, the digestive constraint and the less common toxic constraint found in the two prey bivalves, Dosinia isocardia and Loripes lucinalis (Loripes), respectively. Loripes contain sulphur that is partly metabolized by endosymbiotic chemoautotrophic bacteria located in their gills. The present study investigated whether it is the sulphur that limits maximum intake rates on Loripes by comparing intake rates on artificially detoxificated and fresh Loripes. Site differences in sulphur contents were additionally examined to see whether spatial differences in toxicity are strong enough to be displayed in intake rates. We found that intake rates on Loripes with lower sulphur contents (detoxification) were higher than on fresh collected Loripes. Sulphur, therefore, probably limits intake rates when offered ad libitum. Site differences also existed probably due to prey toxicity but its role compared to prey quality (flesh to shell ratio) in making a site more or less suitable remains unclear. However, reliable sulphur content data are still be needed to make final statements about the role of toxic compounds in shaping the foraging behaviour of the red knot in Banc d’Arguin

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Research Project 1)
Supervisor name: Piersma, T.
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Master's Research Project 1
Language: English
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2018
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2018 11:22

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