Food availability and diet are two key issues in understanding the ecological requirements of a migratory species in stopover sites and in taking effective conservation measures. In the case of the globally threatened Aquatic Warbler, there have previously been no studies examining diet selection in the Iberian Peninsula, a key region for their post-nuptial movements. In this context, the availability of arthropods in different habitats (reeds, rushes and grassland), the composition and biomass of prey in faecal samples, and diet selection were all investigated in a wetland in northwest Spain. The results showed a higher total abundance of arthropods in grassland and rushes: habitats which were more similar to each other, in terms of vegetation physiognomy and composition of invertebrates, compared with reeds. In terms of prey abundance, diet was dominated by Araneae, Heteroptera and Homoptera. However, the groups that contributed most to the ingested biomass were Diptera (Tipulidae), Odonata and Orthoptera, followed by Araneae. Prey selection indices showed a preference for these groups, which all contain insects with a large body length. These diet characteristics showed many similarities with studies in other stopover and breeding areas, but differ in that Araneae were the main arthropod prey at this stopover site.
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Vol. 104 • No. 3