Birds as predators of white grubs: a new molecular method to identify prey in bird faeces

J. Oehm, K. Nagiller, S. Neuhauser, A. Juen, M. Traugott (PI)

 

While many studies indicate that invertebrate predators and parasitoids can regulate pest populations beyond the damage threshold, little is known about the contribution of avian predators to insect pest control. To quantify the effects of insectivorous birds on pests, methods are needed, which enable us to measure predation rates. Conventional methods based on microscopic analysis of scats and gizzards, however, are often of limited use. New, reliable and non-invasive methods are needed. The present project addresses this need: we aim to develop and evaluate a DNA-based approach to identify soft-bodied scarab larvae in the diet of carrion crows (Corvus corone corone) via faecal analysis. This predator-prey system is also relevant in an applied sense because scarab larvae are severe soil pests and carrion crows are one of their natural enemies. Crows might be capable of regulating scarab populations below the damage threshold (see also project on “The importance of birds as natural control agents of white grubs in grassland systems”)

Funding: University of Innsbruck (Aktion Hypo Tirol Bank, Aktion
D. Swarowski)

Vogelprojekt Gebiet

Vogelprojekt Krähe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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