|Session III: Posters
||Abstract #: 97311
A SYNOPSIS OF FORAGING BEHAVIORS OF HERONS AND EGRETS
Kieckbusch, David K.
Everglades Systems Research Division, South Florida Water Management District,
3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406 USA
Demand for quantified animal behaviors in ecology is increasing due to the rise of individual-based models such as the Across-Trophic-Level System Simulation which requires large amounts of behavioral data. Also the need to know how different species react to the similar conditions is important because it can show how individuals adjust their foraging tactics to conform to present conditions. I observed and quantified individual foraging behaviors of wading birds during an experiment at 15 0.2-hectare ponds adjacent to Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The experiment consisted of videotaping behaviors of birds in response to treatments of water level and fish density. Prior to the experiment, I conducted a literature search to compile a list of published behavioral categories for foraging wading birds. I observed 4 species utilizing 7 behaviors previously unattributed to those species. The majority of new behaviors were exhibited by short-legged species adjusting their feeding strategies to deeper water treatments. Differences in the range of behaviors exhibited by wading birds affected their response to environmental factors such was water depth and prey density which fluctuate seasonally in the Everglades.