Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Ecology and Evolution





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Originally published at

Funded in part by the VCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Date of Submission

February 2017


Aquatic prey subsidies entering terrestrial habitats are well documented, but little is known about the degree to which these resources provide fitness benefits to riparian consumers. Riparian species take advantage of seasonal pulses of both terrestrial and aquatic prey, although aquatic resources are often over-looked in studies of how diet influences the reproductive ecology of these organisms. Ideally, the timing of resource pulses should occur at the time of highest reproductive demand. This study investigates the availability of aquatic(mayfly) and terrestrial (caterpillar) prey resources as well as the nestling diet of the prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea) at two sites along the lower James River in Virginia during the 2014 breeding season. We found large differences in availability of prey items between the two sites, with one having significantly higher mayfly availability. Nestling diet was generally reflective of prey availability, and nestlings had faster mean growth rates at the site with higher aquatic prey availability. Terrestrial prey were fed more readily at the site with lower aquatic prey availability, and at this site, nestlings fed mayflies had higher mean growth rates than nestlings fed only terrestrial prey. Our results suggest that aquatic subsidies are an important resource for nestling birds and are crucial to understanding the breeding ecology of riparian species.


© 2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.This is an open access article under the te rms of the C reative Com mons Attribut ion License, which permits use,distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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