, Volume 567, Issue 1, pp 329–340 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal fluctuations in presence and use of chironomid prey by shorebirds in the Odiel saltpans, south-west Spain

  • Marta I. Sánchez
  • Andy J. Green
  • Eloy M. Castellanos


We studied the seasonal variation in abundance and distribution of shorebirds and chironomid Chironomus salinarius larvae in both traditional and industrial salines in the Odiel marshes, south-west Spain, in 2001. We selected 12 ponds that were representative of the different phases of the salt production process. The benthic chironomids were sampled in each pond every 2 months, and the birds were counted weekly. Chironomid larvae were most abundant in spring and autumn, and in the ponds of lower salinity. The density of larvae averaged 7023 ± 392 m−2 (±SE) over the six sampling events. Shorebirds were always more abundant at high tide than at low tide, and were especially abundant during the spring and autumn migration periods when up to 20,775 birds were counted. A total of 24 species were recorded, six of which were present in internationally important numbers. The salines were especially important as foraging and roosting habitat during migration. The percentage of birds that were feeding in the ponds was positively correlated with the abundance of chironomid larvae at accessible depths. The number of feeding birds was also higher in ponds with more chironomid larvae available. Despite more intensive management, industrial salines held higher densities of birds and a similar abundance of chironomids when compared with traditional salines.


saltpans Chironomus salinarius salinity shorebirds foraging habitat Odiel marshes 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, S. A., Hobson, K. A., Gratto-Trevor, C. L., Diamond, A. W. 1996Conventional and isotopic determinations of shorebird diet at an inland stopover: the importance of invertebrates and Potamogeton pectinatus tubersCanadian Journal of Zoology7410571068Google Scholar
  2. Amat, F., Barata, C., Hontoria, F., Navarro, J. C., Varó, I. 1995Biogeography of the genus Artemia (Crustacea, Branchipoda, Anostraca) in SpainInternational Journal of Salt Lake Research3175190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arias, A. M., Drake, P. 1994Structure and production of the benthic macroinvertebrate community in a shallow lagoon in the Bay of CádizMarine Ecology Progress Series.115151167Google Scholar
  4. Armitage, P.Cranston, P. S.Pinder, L. C. V. eds. 1995The Chironomidae: The Biology and Ecology of Non-Biting MidgesChapman & HallLondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernués, M. eds. 1998Humedales Españoles inscritos en la Lista del Convenio de RamsarMinisterio de Medio Ambiente, Organismo Autónomo de Parques NacionalesMadridGoogle Scholar
  6. Bliss, C. I., Fisher, R. A. 1953Fitting the negative binomial distribution to biological data, with a note on the efficient fittingBiometrics9174200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Britton, R. H., Johnson, A. R. 1987An ecological account of a Mediterranean salina: the Salin de Giraud, Camargue (S. France)Biological Conservation42185230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Castellanos, E. M., Heredia, C., Figueroa, M. E., Davy, A. J. 1998Tiller dynamics of Spartina maritima in successional and non-successional Mediterranean salt marshPlant Ecology137213225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cayford, J. 1993Wader disturbance: a theoretical overviewWader Study Group Bull6835Google Scholar
  10. Drake, P., Arias, A. M. 1995Distribution and production of Chironomus salinarius (Diptera: Chironomidae) in a shallow coastal lagoon in the Bay of CádizHydrobiologia299195206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dit Durell, Le V., Kelly, C. P. 1990Diets of dunlin Calidris alpina and grey plover Pluvialis squatarola on the Wash as determined by dropping analysisBird Study374447Google Scholar
  12. Goss-Custard, J. D. 1969The winter feeding ecology of the Redshank Tringa totanus Ibis111338356Google Scholar
  13. Goss-Custard, J. D. 1970The responses of Redshank (Tringa totanus (L.)) to spatial variations in the density of their preyJournal of Animal Ecology3991113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goss-Custard, J. D., Jones, R. E., Newbery, P. E. 1977aThe ecology of the Wash. I. Distribution and diet of wading birds (Charadrii)Journal of Applied Ecology14681700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goss-Custard, J. D., Jenyon, R. A., Jones, R. E., Newbery, P. E., Williams, R. Le B. 1977bThe ecology of the Wash. II. Seasonal variation in the feeding conditions of wading birds (Charadrii)Journal of Applied Ecology14701719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goss-Custard, J. D., Moser, M. E. 1988Rates of change in the numbers of Dunlin Calidris alpina, wintering in british estuaries in relation to the spread of Spartina Anglica Journal of Applied Ecology2595109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goss-Custard, J. D., Warwick, R. M., Kirby, R., McGrorty, S., Clarke, R. T., Pearson, B., Rispin, W. E., Dit Durell, Le V., Rose, R. J. 1991Towards predicting wading bird densities from predicted prey densities in a post-barrage Severn estuaryJournal of Applied Ecology2810041026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fasola, M., Canova, L. 1993Diel activity of resident and inmigrant waterbirds at Lake Turkana, KenyaIbis135442450Google Scholar
  19. Galat, D. L., Coleman, M., Robinson, R. 1988Experimental effects of elevated salinity on three benthic invertebrates in Pyramid Lake, NevadaHydrobiologia158133144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hammer, U. T., Sheard, J. S., Kranabetter, J. 1990Distribution and abundance of littoral benthic fauna in Canadian prairie saline lakesHydrobiologia197173192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huryn, A. D. 1990Growth and voltinism of lotic midge larvae: patterns across an Appalachian Mountain basinLimnology and Oceanography35339351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Iverson, G. C., Warnock, S. E., Butler, R. W., Bishop, M. A., Warnock, N. 1996Spring migration of western sandpipers along the Pacific Coast of North America: A telemetry studyCondor981021Google Scholar
  23. Kopocinski, B., Lonc, E., Modrzejewska, M. 1998Fitting a bivariate negative binomial model to the distribution of bird lice (Phthraptera, Mallophaga) parasitizing the pheasant (Phasianus colchicus L.)Acta Parasitologica438185Google Scholar
  24. Masero, J. A., Pérez-González, M., Basadre, M., Otero-Saavedra, M. 1999Food supply for waders (Aves: Charadrii) in an estuarine area in the Bay of Cádiz (SW Iberian Peninsula)Acta Oecologica20429434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Masero, J. A., Pérez-Hurtado, A., Castro, M., Arroyo, G. M. 2000Complementary use of intertidal mudflats and adjacent salinas by foraging wadersArdea88177191Google Scholar
  26. Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y., Piersma, T., Wiersma, P., Poot, M., Battley, P., Gordon, C. 1998Water depth selection, daily feeding routines and diets of waterbirds in coastal lagoons in GhanaIbis14089103Google Scholar
  27. Pérez-Hurtado, A., Hortas, F. 1991Information about the habitat use of salines and fishponds by wintering waders in Cádiz BayWader Study Group Bulletin664853Google Scholar
  28. Pérez-Hurtado, A., Goss-Custard, J. D., García, F. 1997The diet of wintering waders in Cádiz Bay, southwest SpainBird Study444552Google Scholar
  29. Rehfisch, M. M. 1994Man-made lagoons and how their attractiveness to wader might be increased by manipulating the biomass of an insect benthosJournal of Applied Ecology31383401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sánchez, M. I., Green, A. J., Castellanos, E. M. 2005Seasonal variation in the diet of the Redshank Tringa totanus in the Odiel Marshes, south-west Spain: a comparison of faecal and pellet analysisBird Study52210216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sánchez, M. I., A. J. Green & R. Alejandre, 2006. Shorebird predation affects abundance and size distribution of benthic chironomids in saltpans: an exclosure experiment. Journal of the North American Benthological Society.Google Scholar
  32. SAS Institute Inc., 1997. SAS/STAT® Software, changes and enhancements through Release 6.12. Cary, NCGoogle Scholar
  33. SAS Institute Inc., 2000. SAS/STAT® software, User’s Guide. Cary, NCGoogle Scholar
  34. Service, S. K., Feller, R. J. 1992Long-term trends of subtidal macrobenthos in North Inlent. South Carolina.Hydrobiologia2311348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Smit, C. J., Piersma, T. 1989Numbers, midwinter distribution, and migration of wader populations using the East Atlantic FlywayBoyd, H.Pirot, J.-Y. eds. Flyways and Reserve Networks for Water BirdsInternational Waterfowl and Wetlands Research BureauSlimbridge2463Google Scholar
  36. Velasquez, C. R. 1992Managing artificial saltpans as a waterbirds habitat: species’ responses to water level manipulationColonial Waterbirds154355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Worral, D. H. 1984Diet of the Dunlin Calidris alpina in the Severn estuaryBird Study31203212Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta I. Sánchez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andy J. Green
    • 1
  • Eloy M. Castellanos
    • 2
  1. 1.Génétique et Evolution des Maladies InfectieusesUMR CNRS/IRD 2724 IRD - 911 avenue AgropolisMontpellier cedex 5France
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología Ambiental y Salúd pública, Facultad de Ciencias ExperimentalesUniversidad de Huelva. Ctra.Palos de la FronteraSpain

Personalised recommendations