Browsing All Posts filed under »feeding«

Coarse, shallow and wooden… but useful nonetheless

June 19, 2017


Coarse woody debris (CWD) derived from shoreline trees provides an important, spatially complex habitat and a food source for lake-dwelling organisms. Here are some interesting facts about lake CWD, taken from a recent review paper: In the absence of the physical action of flowing water, CWD breaks down more slowly in lakes than in streams. […]

A disturbing mix

June 19, 2017


The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been introduced to many locations around the world and is highly invasive.  Its habit of foraging by digging in the bottom substrate significantly alters freshwater systems by uprooting plants, resuspending sediment, and increasing turbidity and the release of nutrients.  However, the extent to which aquatic nutrient flows are affected […]

How big is a food patch?

June 19, 2017


Most studies of food patch choice by foraging animals have assumed that the patches in question are separate and well-defined. However, in many cases, predators feed in continuous habitats without obvious, discrete patches, and researchers are forced to choose an arbitrary spatial scale when calculating prey densities and interpreting the impacts of predators. An important […]

Herbivory is important in freshwater systems

March 27, 2017

Comments Off on Herbivory is important in freshwater systems

Until the 1990s it was believed that, in the main, freshwater and marine plants were connected to aquatic food webs only indirectly, through the breakdown of decaying vegetation by decomposers. However, over the last two decades there’s been a growing realisation that the activities of aquatic herbivores in consuming plants and channeling the derived nutrients […]

Water birds bring up the subject of plant dispersal

December 13, 2016

Comments Off on Water birds bring up the subject of plant dispersal

Waterfowl play an important role in the dispersal of plants by consuming and then defaecating their seeds. However, although birds such as ducks ingest a wide range of seeds, the digestive activity in their guts generally means that soft-bodied seeds become non-viable. Regurgitation of still-intact seeds is a possible alternative method of dispersal that allows […]

Dietary data can be misleading

December 18, 2015

Comments Off on Dietary data can be misleading

Information on the structure and function of food webs is commonly collected by using gut content analysis to reconstruct the diets of a wide range of animal species. However, this approach can be very time consuming and expensive, and gives no information on how much ingested food is actually assimilated into the body. A supplementary […]

Cutting reed beds while protecting bird diversity

December 18, 2015

Comments Off on Cutting reed beds while protecting bird diversity

The common reed (Phragmites australis) occurs throughout the world and provides habitat for a wide range of animal species, including a number of reedbed specialists. Although reeds are commonly cut for commercial reasons and to prevent plant succession to wet woodland, it’s been shown that large-scale cutting can reduce the feeding and breeding success of […]