Betsy A. Evans http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8492-016X
Date of this Version
Urban Ecosystems (2021)
Human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) has altered landscape processes and negatively impacted many species globally. Some of the most dramatic changes have been in wetlands where flows have been disrupted, and new wetlands have been created to retain runoff. In response to disrupted natural wetland conditions, Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) populations in South Florida have significantly declined over the past several decades. Despite the well-documented sensitivity of Wood Storks to natural wetland conditions, Wood Storks are often observed foraging in roadside created wetlands; however, the availability of prey in created wetlands is currently unknown. We sampled natural and created wetlands to determine aquatic fauna available for foraging Wood Storks. To determine prey use, we collected food boluses from Wood Storks in both natural wetland and urban landscapes. Historical studies found nonnative fish were absent in Wood Stork diet prior to the dominance of created wetlands in the landscape; however, we found nonnative fish frequently in both created wetlands and boluses. Furthermore, urban nesting Wood Storks consumed large-bodied prey species that were more characteristic of created wetlands whereas Wood Storks nesting in natural wetlands consumed large-bodied prey more characteristic of natural wetlands. Overall, Wood Storks consumed prey that were more similar to the fish community in created wetlands than those in natural wetlands. These dietary patterns suggest that Wood Storks have behavioral plasticity in both foraging habitat and prey use to cope with HIREC. Conservation efforts for species existing in both natural and urban habitats should consider the importance of novel prey and foraging habitats, as they may assist in sustaining populations in a rapidly changing world.
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