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PeerJ. 2016 Apr 21;4:e1968. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1968. eCollection 2016.

Winter diet and food selection of the Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis in Dashanbao, Yunnan, China.

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State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China; Kunming College of Life Science, University of Chinese Academy of Science, Kunming, China.
Administrative Bureau, Dashanbao National Nature Reserve , Zhao Tong, Yunnan , China.
State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Kunming , China.


The Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis is a globally vulnerable species whose food is the factor determining its long-term survival. Understanding dietary habits, food preferences, and related factors will facilitate the development of effective conservation plans for the protection of this vulnerable species. For this purpose, we used video recordings and sampling of food availability to examine the dietary composition and temporal variation in food selection of Black-necked Cranes wintering in the Dashanbao National Nature Reserve, China. The Black-necked Crane's diet consists primarily of domestic food crops such as grains (74%) and potatoes (8%), in addition to invertebrates (14%). A much smaller proportion of the diet was comprised of turnips and wild herbaceous plants and tubers. There was monthly variation in food selection, partially related to food availability. Grains were most available in November and decreased through the winter, whereas invertebrates were more available in November and February than in December and January. Grain consumption was lowest in November but higher from December through February. Invertebrate consumption was highest in November and February. The cranes preferred to eat grains throughout winter months, while they mainly selected invertebrates in November and February. We suggested invertebrate populations sharply declined in December and January due to the low temperature. In addition, grain consumption was negatively associated with invertebrate availability. In November, when invertebrates were most abundant, and despite a concomitant peak in grain abundance, we suggested cranes exhibited a preference for invertebrates over grains. We recommend that the protection administration provide appropriate supplemental foods for cranes during freezing weather.


Black-necked Crane; Dashanbao; Diet composition; Food availability; Food selection; Grus nigricollis

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