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The decline of the Turtle Dove: dietary associations with body condition and competition with other columbids analysed using high-throughput sequencing

Dunn, Jenny C., Stockdale, Jennifer E., Moorhouse-Gann, Rosemary J., McCubbin, Alexandra, Helen, Hipperson, Morris, Antony J., Grice, Philip V and Symondson, William O. C. 2018. The decline of the Turtle Dove: dietary associations with body condition and competition with other columbids analysed using high-throughput sequencing. Molecular Ecology 27 (16) , pp. 3386-3407. 10.1111/mec.14766

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Dietary changes linked to the availability of anthropogenic food resources can have complex implications for species and ecosystems, especially when species are in decline. Here, we use recently developed primers targeting the ITS2 region of plants to characterize diet from faecal samples of four UK columbids, with particular focus on the European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), a rapidly declining obligate granivore. We examine dietary overlap between species (potential competition), associations with body condition in turtle doves and spatiotemporal variation in diet. We identified 143 taxonomic units, of which we classified 55% to species, another 34% to genus and the remaining 11% to family. We found significant dietary overlap between all columbid species, with the highest between turtle doves and stock doves (Columba oenas), then between turtle doves and woodpigeons (Columba palumbus). The lowest overlap was between woodpigeons and collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto). We show considerable change in columbid diets compared to previous studies, probably reflecting opportunistic foraging behaviour by columbids within a highly anthropogenically modified landscape, although our data for nonturtle doves should be considered preliminary. Nestling turtle doves in better condition had a higher dietary proportion of taxonomic units from natural arable plant species and a lower proportion of taxonomic units from anthropogenic food resources such as garden bird seed mixes and brassicas. This suggests that breeding ground conservation strategies for turtle doves should include provision of anthropogenic seeds for adults early in the breeding season, coupled with habitat rich in accessible seeds from arable plants once chicks have hatched.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0962-1083
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 February 2018
Date of Acceptance: 20 December 2017
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2020 13:00

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