Migrant shorebird predation on benthic invertebrates along the Illinois river, Illinois

Gabriel L. Hamer, Edward J. Heske, Jeffrey D. Brawn, Patrick W. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluated the effect of shorebird predation on invertebrates at a wetland complex along the Illinois River, west-central Illinois, during spring migration. Using a new exclosure experiment design adapted to the shifting nature of foraging microhabitat of interior wetlands, we found that shorebird predation did not significantly deplete total invertebrate density or total biomass in open (no exclosure) versus exclosure treatments. Chironomids and oligochaetes were the most common invertebrates occurring in substrate samples. The density of oligochaetes was lower in open treatments, though the degree of difference varied both spatially and temporally. Shorebird density was positively correlated with the amount of invertebrate biomass removed from the substrate during the late-May sampling period. Our results suggest that shorebirds use an opportunistic foraging strategy and consume the most abundant invertebrate prey. The dynamic hydrology at our study site likely played a role in preventing invertebrate depletion by continually exposing new foraging areas and prey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-163
Number of pages12
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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