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Frugivory and habitat use by thrushes (Turdus spp.) in a suburban area in south Brazil

Abstract

Thrushes (Turdus spp., Turdidae) are among the most common frugivorous birds in urban areas around the world, where they disperse the seeds of a variety of plant species. We studied the abundance, habitat use, foraging behavior and diet of four thrush species (Turdus rufiventris, T. amaurochalinus, T. leucomelas, and T. albicollis) in a suburban area in south Brazil. Abundance, habitat use and foraging behavior were based on birds surveyed along a 3,240 m transect crossing open (formed by lawns, streets, and buildings) and forested areas. Diet was based on fecal samples collected from mist-netted birds. Turdus rufiventris was the most abundant species, followed by T. amaurochalinus, T. leucomelas, and T. albicollis. All species used forest fragments more frequently than expected by chance. A total of 91.8% (n = 147) of the fecal samples contained fruit remains, while 42.2% contained only animal matter. Most of the foraging records were on the ground, where birds got mainly invertebrates. Fruits and invertebrates were eaten more frequently in open than in forested areas. A total of 25 seed morfospecies were found in the droppings, including five exotic plant species. Thrushes overlapped widely in the fruit composition of their diets. The high abundance and degree of frugivory, coupled with the frequent use of forest patches, indicate that thrushes are among the great bird contributors to the seed dispersal occurring in urban forest patches, potentially influencing the vegetation dynamics of such habitats so important for the maintenance of the biodiversity in urban areas.

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Acknowledgments

We thank T. Steffen for helping in the fieldwork, G. Mazzochini for plant identification, and CEMAVE/IBAMA for metal rings. MAP is supported by a research grant from Brazilian Research Council (CNPq), and GG receives a fellowship from the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS).

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Correspondence to Marco Aurélio Pizo.

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Gasperin, G., Aurélio Pizo, M. Frugivory and habitat use by thrushes (Turdus spp.) in a suburban area in south Brazil. Urban Ecosyst 12, 425 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-009-0090-2

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Keywords

  • Diet
  • Exotic plants
  • Frugivory
  • Habitat use
  • Seed dispersal
  • Urban ecology