Year-round preference for spiders by Mediterranean great tits Parus major


Authors: Emilio PAGANI-NÚÑEZ, Sergio HERNÁNDEZ-GÓMEZ, Sepand RIYAHI and Juan-Carlos SENAR


Published: Volume 61.2, December 2014. Pages 257-267.

Language: English

Keywords: arachnids, captivity, caterpillars, Mediterranean area and prey choice


A key topic in foraging ecology is whether a particular prey type is consumed because it is more abundant or easier to catch, or because there is a specific preference for it. The great tit Parus majoris an ideal species for studying this topic. Although it is traditionally regarded as a caterpillar specialist, in certain periods, e.g. during the breeding season, or areas, such as the Mediterranean forests, the great tit seems to show a preference for spiders. We conducted food choice experiments with captive birds to ascertain which of these two main prey types (caterpillars v. spiders) was preferred outside the breeding season when there was an opportunity to prey on both food types. In conclusion, we found that, regardless of any variation in the supply-demand ratio and the amount of food available, Mediterranean great tits showed a preference for spiders.

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