Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 441–447 | Cite as

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

  • Marc I. FörschlerEmail author
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
Original Article


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.


Carduelis citrinella Carduelis corsicanus Citril finch Corsican finch Food choice Insular versus mainland populations Niche expansion 



This work was undertaken in close cooperation with the Max Planck Research Centre for Ornithology, Vogelwarte Radolfzell, Germany (Prof. Dr. Peter Berthold). Dr. Volker Dorka (Tübingen, Germany) and two referees provided helpful comments on the manuscript. Prof. Dr. Alexander Tahori (Tel Aviv, Israel) kindly improved the English. Field work was supported by Antonio Borras, Josep Cabrera, Toni Cabrera, Juan Carlos Senar (Museu Ciències Naturals, Barcelona, Spain), Philippe Perret (Centre d’ Ecology Fonctionelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France), Nicola Baccetti (Instituto nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Bologna, Italy), Sergio Nissardi (Cagliari, Italy), Ulrich Dorka (Tübingen, Germany) and Jürgen Kläger (Baiersbronn, Germany) The study was conducted with financial support from the Max Planck Research Centre for Ornithology (Vogelwarte Radolfzell) and the Landesgraduiertenförderung Baden-Württemberg, University of Ulm, to M. Förschler.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vogelwarte RadolfzellMax Planck Research Centre of OrnithologyRadolfzellGermany
  2. 2.Department of Experimental EcologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany

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