Availability of food and abundance of Ortalis canicollis during the dry season in Southern Pantanal forests, Brazil

Luciana Vieira de Paiva, José Ragusa-Netto, Leonardo Fernandes França


Frugivorous birds may respond to the seasonal variation of food resources either by temporarily changing their diet and/or by moving between areas with different spatial-temporal fruit availability. The Pantanal is a highly suitable ecosystem for evaluating both of these strategies, due to the seasonal availability of plant food resources in sites such as forest patches and gallery forest. In the present study, we investigated the abundance and the feeding habits of Ortalis canicollis (Wagler, 1830) during the dry season in two habitat types in the Southern Pantanal. The study was carried out between April and November 2002. We sampled the availability of fruits and flowers of nine tree species (149 individuals). The monthly abundance of O. canicollis was evaluated by means of an abundance index (15 points per environment), and food consumption was recorded through direct observation. In both environments, flowers were more abundant from the middle to end of the dry season. However, in the gallery forest fruits predominated from the beginning to the middle of the dry season, while they were often produced in the forest patches during the dry season. In both areas, O. canicollis occurred throughout the entire study. The local variations of O. canicollis abundance potentially resulted from the availability of their food resources because oscillations in O. canicollis food resources use overlapped both the fruiting and flowering patterns in both sites. The generalist feeding habits of O. canicollis, at least in part, may explain their persistence in forest habitats of southern Pantanal in the harshest period of the year.

Key words: Chaco chachalaca, birds, cracidae, phenology, frugivory.

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