Aims: This study examines diurnal diet and prey size selection of kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus, ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula and dunlin Calidris alpina on salt pans.
Location: The work was carried out on the salt pans of the Mondego estuary, western Portugal.
Methods: To study diet and prey availability, we collected bird droppings and sediment samples to a depth of 5 cm in salt pans heavily used by the birds. The proportion of each prey item was compared between faecal and sediment samples.
Results: The major patterns in diet among seasons and species were due to the consumption of Chironomidae and Ephydridae larvae, highly abundant during winter and spring, respectively.
Conclusion: All three shorebird species consumed the most abundant prey items and prey-sizes in the salt pans, notably larvae of Chironomus spp.
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