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Using dietary metabarcoding analyses to characterise waterbirds-agriculture interactions.

Abstract

Globally, the use of agricultural fields by waterbirds has increased, resulting in conflicts with farmers. Designing effective management strategies to resolve these conflicts requires understanding the species' resource use. Dietary analyses can shed light on the extent of consumption of agricultural crops and surrounding natural resources, as well as the potential relationship between diet and an individual's body condition and ultimately its fitness. We examined the dietary composition of the tropical magpie goose Anseranas semipalmata, seasonally utilising a mixed natural-agricultural landscape of northern Australia. We used DNA metabarcoding of intestinal contents from hunted geese to reconstruct individual diets and evaluated body condition from morphometric measurements. We compared the relative contribution of agricultural and natural foods to dietary composition, and investigated how this contribution varied spatially, temporally and among individuals that differed in body condition.

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