EPA Science Inventory

Factors Influencing Expanded Use of Urban Marine Habitats by Foraging Wading Birds

Citation:

MCKINNEY, R. A. AND K. B. Raposa. Factors Influencing Expanded Use of Urban Marine Habitats by Foraging Wading Birds. Urban Ecosystems. Springer Science+Business Media B.V, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 16(3):411-426, (2013).

Description:

Urban marine habitats are often utilized by wildlife for foraging and other activities despite surrounding anthropogenic impact or disturbance. However little is known of the ecological factors that determine habitat value of these and other remnant natural habitats. We examined the preferential use of urban marine habitats in a northeast US estuary to try to elucidate the factors driving enhanced foraging activity at these sites. Using a bioenergetic model, we compared energy intake to energy expenditure and examined differences in behavior and foraging success of great egrets Egretta ardea at six urban and rural salt marshes in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island USA. Mean per site available nekton energy averaged 4.44 ± 0.97 GJ site-1 and was significantly higher at urban than at rural sites. While energy expenditure by birds was similar across all sites, mean strike and prey capture rate were significantly greater at urban sites, and 70.1 ± 12.2% of strikes by egrets at urban sites were successful. Egrets foraging at urban sites consumed significantly more energy (23.2 ± 6.62 W bird-1) than those at rural sites. Model results indicated a net energy gain by egrets foraging at urban sites, versus a net energy loss at rural sites. Our results may help explain previously observed increases in the numbers of egrets foraging at urban marine habitats, and help provide input into decisions about the extent to which these areas should be considered for restoration or protection.

Purpose/Objective:

This study investigated the preferential use of urban marine habitats in a northeast US estuary to try to elucidate the factors driving enhanced foraging activity. We used a bioenergetic modeling approach to assess differences in energy intake, foraging success, and behavior of great egrets Egretta ardea at six urban and rural salt marshes in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island USA. We found energy expenditure by birds to be similar across all sites, but mean strike and prey capture rate were significantly greater at urban sites, and birds foraging at urban sites consumed significantly more energy (23.2 ± 6.62 W bird-1) than those at rural sites. Model results indicated a net energy gain by egrets foraging at urban sites, versus a net energy loss at rural sites. Our results may help explain previously observed increases in the numbers of egrets foraging at urban marine habitats, and help provide input into management and policy decisions about the extent to which these areas should be considered for restoration or protection.

URLs/Downloads:

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 09/01/2013
Completion Date: 09/01/2013
Record Last Revised: 03/13/2014
Record Created: 04/12/2012
Record Released: 04/12/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 242555

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION

HABITATS EFFECT BRANCH