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Individual Feeding Specializations of Wintering Turnstone Arenaria interpres

D. Philip Whitfield
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 59, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 193-211
DOI: 10.2307/5168
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5168
Page Count: 19
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Individual Feeding Specializations of Wintering Turnstone Arenaria interpres
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Abstract

(1) On a rocky shore in south-east Scotland wintering turnstone Arenaria interpres used six techniques to obtain their prey: routing (flicking and bulldozing seaweed aside), probing, stone-turning, hammer-probing, digging and surface pecking. (2) There were significant individual differences in the use of these techniques both between and within flocks of stable membership: several individuals specialized in the use of particular techniques and all displayed varying degrees of predilection for each technique. Individuals' predilections remained the same between two winters. (3) Data collected from individuals in three flocks over two winters were used in several full factorial analyses of variance with the percentage of observations of routing, probing or stone-turning as dependent variables and microhabitat, tide, season, agonistic status and sex as independent variables. (4) Individual phenotypic differences had highly significant effects on the use of feeding techniques in all flocks, as did microhabitat, probably because certain techniques could only be used or were more profitably used in certain microhabitats. (5) On their own, tide and season did not have a significant effect on which technique was used except for an effect of season in one flock. Season and tide were more important when interacting with other variables, particularly microhabitat. (6) The strongest effect of sex on feeding behaviour occurred when the only two viable techniques were probing and stone-turning: females turned over stones more often than did males. (7) In all flocks an effect of status occurred invariably where the two possible techniques that could be used were routing and probing: high status birds routed more often than did low status birds. Several other lines of evidence strongly suggested that turnstone competed for the use of the routing technique, low status birds adopting other techniques through their inferior competitive ability. (8) In a short-term removal experiment some birds increased their use of routing during the absence of some high status birds, others did not. (9) The feeding behaviour of wintering turnstone seems to be conditional on phenotype and environment, and there does not appear to be an ESS-type mixture of alternative feeding strategies.

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