Prey selection and food habits of breeding Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) in natural and modified habitats of Argentine pampas


Understanding the way animals respond to novel habitats and fluctuations in food resources can provide insights into the ability of species to settle in modified habitats. We studied the patterns of arthropod selection by Burrowing Owls in natural and modified habitats. We assessed the diet of this owl by means of pellet analysis and, simultaneously, we estimated relative abundance of arthropods in the field by trapping. A similar pattern of prey selection and avoidance was found among habitats, with coleopterans the main prey consumed. Food-niche breadth was low at all habitats, reflecting the dominance of a few prey items in the diet of the Burrowing Owl. Its wide trophic spectrum as well as its ability to take advantage of dominant resources suggests that, from a feeding perspective, the Burrowing Owl can readily colonise and adapt to newly human-modified habitats.

Palabras clave
bird, grassland, insects, South America, urban
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