, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 441-447
Date: 06 Dec 2005

Macrogeographic variations in food choice of mainland citril finches Carduelis [citrinella] citrinella versus insular Corsican (citril) finches Carduelis [citrinella] corsicanus

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Abstract

We studied variations in diet composition in sub-populations of mainland citril finches Carduelis [citrinella] citrinella in European mountain chains, compared to closely related insular Corsican (citril) finches Carduelis [citrinella] corsicanus on several Mediterranean Islands with a special emphasis on key food plants used during the breeding period. We found that citril finch sub-populations of the Pre-Pyrenees and the Black Forest rely mostly on mountain pine and dandelion seeds as main food resources during the breeding season. In contrast, insular Corsican finches on the Mediterranean islands of Capraia and Corsica fed mainly on various herb species. Finches in Corsica fed predominantly on shepherd’s purse, while birds from Capraia were choosing rosemary as their main food plant during the breeding period. These observations confirmed the previously expected difference in food choice between the two forms due to the observed increased niche breadth on Corsica. However, Corsican finches on Sardinia showed a food choice more similar to that of the citril finch populations, in that they fed predominantly on black pine seeds during breeding season. Thus we were not able to find clear behavioural differences in diet composition between all studied sub-populations of citril and Corsican finches. To conclude, food choice of both forms is highly adaptive and, in the different breeding areas, distinct key plants may be of special importance during the breeding season. The preference for these plants is likely to be linked to their abundance and their energetic and nutritional content.

Communicated by F. Bairlein