Beetles (Coleoptera) in the diet of Piping Plovers in the Iles de la Madeleine, Québec, Canada
77 – 83
1 August 08
Christopher G. Majka, François Shaffer
Christopher G. Majka
Nova Scotia Museum, 1747 Summer Street, B3H 3A6 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Coleoptera remains from droppings collected for a fecal analysis study of the diet of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) in the Iles de la Madeleine, Québec, Canada were examined and identified to species level. Beetles found in the bird’s droppings included Bledius opaculus LeConte (Staphylinidae), Philopedon plagiatum (Schaller), Dryocoetes autographus (Ratzeburg) (Curculionidae), Baeckmanniolus dimidiatipennis (LeConte) (Histeridae), Negastrius delumbis (Horn) (Elateridae), Dyschiriodes sellatus (LeConte), Harpalus affinis (Schrank), and Cicindela species (Carabidae). Bledius opaculus , an algae-feeding rove beetle that inhabits sand- and mud-flats, was two orders of magnitude more abundant than any other species. These results allow for insights into the feeding strategy and preferences of Piping Plovers and the ecological circumstances of the environment they occupy. Piping Plovers are reliant to an important degree on the specialized algae-Bledius-Dyschiriodes ecological system; they feed in and exploit the resources of several shoreline microhabitats including sand- and mud-flats, sand dunes, beach wrack and the strand line; they appear to be diurnally- and nocturnally-active; they exploit both introduced Palearctic species that now inhabit their environment, as well as beetles that have been accidentally blown or washed into their habitat; prey sizes ranged from 3.2 mm to ~15.0 mm; and they feed on a diverse assemblage of beetles representative of the shore-line inhabiting groups. This indicates that Piping Plovers are able to exploit a diversity of potential food resources in their environment. Their diet in the Iles de la Madeleine, however, appears to be based in large measure on Bledius opaculus , and hence this plover is vulnerable to changes that would affect the specialized Bledius-based ecosystem.