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Data from: Assessing the value of novel habitats to snail kites through foraging behavior and nest survival

Citation

Pias, Kyle E.; Fletcher, Robert J.; Kitchens, Wiley M. (2016), Data from: Assessing the value of novel habitats to snail kites through foraging behavior and nest survival, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mm820

Abstract

Novel ecosystems arise for a variety of reasons, most notably from the introduction of non-native species. To be successful, conservation strategies must both focus on traditional habitats and acknowledge the interplay between novel habitats and species of conservation interest. In the United States, the snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) is a federally endangered species whose population in Florida has undergone declines within the past decade. While studying the foraging behavior of breeding snail kites on Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho), we discovered the unexpected use of disturbed ephemeral wetlands adjacent to the lake. These wetlands represent a novel habitat for kites in that they would not have been viable foraging areas prior to the introduction of the exotic island apple snail (Pomacea maculata). The novel wetland areas were highly attractive to kites, likely due to the high snail capture rates in such areas. The survival of kite nests occurring within the novel areas appeared to be similar to that of kite nests occurring in more traditional, nearby areas on Lake Toho. However, whether or not snail kites used novel habitats as nesting areas appeared to be dependent upon water depth and availability of nesting substrate within the novel areas. By examining the differences between snail kite behavior in traditional and novel habitats, we are able to identify some characteristics of novel habitats that may be important in determining the value of novel wetlands to snail kites. More broadly, this study demonstrates the care with which the management and monitoring of novel ecosystems and invasive species should be undertaken, especially when a species of conservation concern is involved.

Usage Notes

Location

Lake Tohopekaliga