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      Ecological and phylogenetic aspects of the spring diet of three palaearctic species of swans

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          Abstract

          The quality of swans' nutrition at spring migration stopovers is important for their successful breeding. It is of great interest to study the differences in nutrition of different swan species when sharing the same habitat. Microscopic analysis of Cygnus olor, C. cygnus, and C. columbianus bewickii feces collected in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland in February-April 2014–2019 was performed. We measured food preferences of the three swan species using non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). The width and overlap of dietary niches were also calculated. The diet of C. olor consists almost entirely of soft submerged aquatic vegetation, mainly macroalgae. Samples of the other two species except macroalgae contained large amounts of young shoots and roots of rigid semi-submerged and coastal vegetation. The dietary niche of C. cygnus is the most isolated because it is dominated by thick rhizomes of Phragmites australis, which are hardly used by other swan species. The diet of Bewick’s swans was similar in many respects to that of the Mute swan, but Bewick’s swans much more often preferred vegetative parts of submerged and semi-submerged plants, such as Stuckenia pectinata, Potamogeton perfoliatus, Sparganium sp., Nuphar lutea, and others. Notably, the dietary niches of Mute swan and Whooper swan overlapped as much as possible in February March during a period of severe food shortage, in contrast to later periods in spring when food was more abundant and varied. In general, differences in diets are well explained by differences in the morphology of birds. Comparison of tarsometatarsus indices shows that C. olor is the most water-related species. C. olor has the longest neck and its beak has the strongest filter features, whereas beaks of the other two species shows noticeable “goose-like grazing” features. Moreover, C. Cygnus has the most powerful beak. These features are due to the history of species. The formation of C. olor occurred during the Miocene-Pliocene of the Palaearctic in the warm eutrophic marine lagoons of the Paratethys with abundant soft submerged vegetation. The evolution of C. cygnus and C. c. bewickii took place in Pleistocene. At that time, periglacial and thermokarst water bodies on permafrost became widespread in the Palearctic, as well as dystrophic peat lakes with much poorer submerged aquatic vegetation, but well-developed coastal and semi-submerged vegetation.

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              Highly Overlapping Winter Diet in Two Sympatric Lemming Species Revealed by DNA Metabarcoding

              Sympatric species are expected to minimize competition by partitioning resources, especially when these are limited. Herbivores inhabiting the High Arctic in winter are a prime example of a situation where food availability is anticipated to be low, and thus reduced diet overlap is expected. We present here the first assessment of diet overlap of high arctic lemmings during winter based on DNA metabarcoding of feces. In contrast to previous analyses based on microhistology, we found that the diets of both collared (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) and brown lemmings (Lemmus trimucronatus) on Bylot Island were dominated by Salix while mosses, which were significantly consumed only by the brown lemming, were a relatively minor food item. The most abundant plant taxon, Cassiope tetragona, which alone composes more than 50% of the available plant biomass, was not detected in feces and can thus be considered to be non-food. Most plant taxa that were identified as food items were consumed in proportion to their availability and none were clearly selected for. The resulting high diet overlap, together with a lack of habitat segregation, indicates a high potential for resource competition between the two lemming species. However, Salix is abundant in the winter habitats of lemmings on Bylot Island and the non-Salix portion of the diets differed between the two species. Also, lemming grazing impact on vegetation during winter in the study area is negligible. Hence, it seems likely that the high potential for resource competition predicted between these two species did not translate into actual competition. This illustrates that even in environments with low primary productivity food resources do not necessarily generate strong competition among herbivores.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                skouzov@mail.ru
                Journal
                BMC Ecol Evol
                BMC Ecol Evol
                BMC Ecology and Evolution
                BioMed Central (London )
                2730-7182
                2 February 2024
                2 February 2024
                2024
                : 24
                : 17
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Applied Ecology, St. Petersburg State University, ( https://ror.org/023znxa73) Universitetskaya Emb. 7-9, St. Petersburg, 199034 Russia
                [2 ]Department of Vertebrate Zoology, St. Petersburg State University, ( https://ror.org/023znxa73) Universitetskaya Emb. 7-9, St. Petersburg, 199034 Russia
                [3 ]Zoological Institute RAS, ( https://ror.org/05snbjh64) Universitetskaya Emb. 1, St. Petersburg, 199034 Russia
                Article
                2204
                10.1186/s12862-024-02204-7
                10835875
                38302909
                4029a952-5791-41e5-9588-1588754ffee7
                © The Author(s) 2024

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                History
                : 19 May 2023
                : 19 January 2024
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                Research
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                © BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2024

                feeding ecology,diet,fecal analysis,mute swan,bewick’s swan,whooper swan

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