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Overveld, Thijs van; Garcia-Alfonso, Marina; Dingemanse, Niels J.; Bouten, Willem; Gangoso, Laura; Riva, Manuel de la; Serrano, David and Donazar, Jose A. (2018): Food predictability and social status drive individual resource specializations in a territorial vulture. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 8, 15155 [PDF, 1MB]


Despite increasing work detailing the presence of foraging specializations across a range of taxa, limited attention so far has been given to the role of spatiotemporal variation in food predictability in shaping individual resource selection. Here, we studied the exploitation of human-provided carrion resources differing in predictability by Canarian Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus majorensis). We focussed specifically on the role of individual characteristics and spatial constraints in shaping patterns of resource use. Using high-resolution GPS data obtained from 45 vultures tracked for 1 year, we show that individual vultures were repeatable in both their monthly use of predictable and semi-predicable resources (feeding station vs. farms) and monthly levels of mobility (home range size and flight activity). However, individual foraging activities were simultaneously characterized by a high degree of (temporal) plasticity in the use of the feeding station in specific months. Individual rank within dominance hierarchy revealed sex-dependent effects of social status on resource preference in breeding adults, illustrating the potential complex social mechanisms underpinning status-dependent resource use patterns. Our results show that predictable food at feeding stations may lead to broad-scale patterns of resource partitioning and affect both the foraging and social dynamics within local vulture populations.

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