Foraging activity patterns in the goosander ( Mergus merganser ) and the red-breasted merganser ( M. serrator ) in relation to patterns of activity in their major prey species
Diel and seasonal foraging activity patterns of goosanders (Mergus merganser L.) and red-breasted mergansers (M. serrator L.) were studied during the breeding season on the Rickleå River in northern Sweden (64°05?N). In addition, the locomotor activity patterns of their most important prey species, the river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis (L.)) and the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.), were recorded. During spring, as mergansers arrived in the breeding area, both species exhibited a bimodal, diurnal pattern of activity with morning and evening peaks. By June (the spawning period for the river lamprey and the migratory period for the three-spined stickleback), goosander activity had shifted to late in the evening. This new activity peak correlated well with the main activity period in the river lamprey. Red-breasted mergansers remained predominantly diurnal throughout the observation period. Their diurnal activity correlated with the activity of their major prey, the three-spined stickleback. Both merganser species utilize a specialized foraging technique, i.e. probing the river-bottom with the bill, to catch hiding fish more or less at random. This behaviour probably helps them to forage during the relatively bright summer nights and thus prey upon the abundant nocturnal river lamprey. The goosander preys upon the river lamprey to a greater extent than does the red-breasted merganser, thus leading to a temporal segregation in food resource utilization between the two duck species.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics