Arthropod resource partitioning among omnivorous tanagers (Tangara spp.) in Western Ecuador

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17 Scopus citations


The distribution and abundance of food are primary factors affecting resource-use patterns in birds. Many bird species eat several food types, which may differ in their distribution and overall abundance. I studied foraging ecology of seven sympatric species of Tangara at Mindo, Ecuador, to determine whether the patterns of resource use differed between two food types: arthropods and fruits. Interspecific differences in arthropod-foraging were manifested in the fine segregation of microhabitat preference combined with different habitat use. By contrast, interspecific differences in fruit-foraging were manifested in preferences for different plant genera, often associated with different habitats. No evidence was found for spatial partitioning of the same fruit species. Interspecific overlap in fruit-for-aging was 3x higher than that in arthropod-foraging, and species of Tangara that frequently joined the same mixed-species flocks differed largely in arthropod-for-aging but overlapped greatly in fruit-foraging. The differences in patterns between arthropod and fruit-foraging may be explained by the different characteristics of arthropods and fruits as food resources. High sympatry of species of Tangara and other omnivorous tanagers, in general, appears to be maintained not because fruits are abundant, resulting in little competition for them, but because these tanagers specialize on different microhabitats for foraging arthropods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Arthropods
  • Ecuador
  • Foraging ecology
  • Omnivorous tanagers
  • Tangara


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