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Background: Understanding the factors that influence the foraging behavior and perception of habitat quality by animals has long been the focus in ecology. Due to the direct effect resource acquisition has on an individual’s fitness and species’ survival, predation risk is considered widely to be a major driver of foraging decision. The objectives of this study were to investigate how predation risk is perceived by granivorous bird species with respect to different habitat and microhabitat types, time of day and food types in Amurum Forest Reserve, Nigeria, with a view to direct future conservation planning.
Methods: For 3 months, we conducted field experiments to measure giving-up densities (GUD, the amount of food left behind in artificial patches after birds cease to forage in it) and how it differs with habitat types, microhabitats, times of day, and food types. General linear mixed-effect models (GLMMs) were fitted to investigate the differences in GUD with respect to the aforementioned variables. Model selection was done based on the Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC).
Results: There was no significant difference in GUDs across habitats. However, there was a significant difference in GUDs between microhabitats. Higher food remnants were recorded in the open than in cover microhabitats, as birds exploited food patches in the cover more. Time of day influenced foraging behavior in the birds. They foraged more in the morning than afternoon across all three habitats except for the gallery forest where birds foraged less in the morning. Higher GUDs were recorded in open than cover microhabitats both in the morning and the afternoon. Birds had a preference for rice, millet, and groundnut respectively.
Conclusion: The differences in GUDs were very indicative of differences in foraging behavior and perception of resource availability in response to perceived predation risk. Therefore, this study suggests that the understanding of foraging decisions can be a veritable method for assessing habitat quality as perceived by animals.
Abdulwahab, Umarfarooq, Osinubi, Samuel, and Abalaka, Jacinta. "Risk of predation: a critical force driving habitat quality perception and foraging behavior of granivorous birds in a Nigerian forest reserve." Avian Research, vol. 10, 2019, pp. 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40657-019-0173-6