Djalila Rabie, Kamilia Farhi, Abdelwahab Chedad

What does the diet of the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758) in the Ziban Oasis (Algeria) indicate: pest or useful in agriculture?

Abstract The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris, L. 1758) is a migratory bird with a vast distribution throughout the Western Palearctic and beyond. It has gained notoriety as one of the most pernicious invaders globally due to its highly destructive nature. In Algeria, this species mostly affects olive tree plantations. We studied the diet of the Common Starling from October 2021 to February 2022 by dissecting the gizzards of 92 specimens from five localities in the Ziban region of Algeria. The investigation revealed a total of 708 prey items, consisting of animal and plant parts. The animal part was dominant, comprising 522 prey items that belonged to 42 species distributed among 27 families and 10 orders. Coleoptera were represented by 24 species in 14 families and were the most abundant order. The ant Messor barbarus and the beetle Opatrum sabulosum were the most consumed species. The plant part was represented by 9 species across 8 families and orders, with Phoenix dactylifera and Olea europea being the two most consumed species. Surprisingly, the European Starling menu also revealed 13 crop pests that were frequently present in its diet, such as the beetle Opatrum sabulosum, the fly Bactrocera oleae, and the moth Plodia interpunctella. The Shannon index (H’ = 4.27) showed that the diet of the Common Starling was diverse, and the value of evenness (E = 0.75) showed that the sampling was relatively even. We highlight that the Common Starling’s diet is very varied and changes based on the local food availability.


Keywords Sturnus vulgaris; trophic menu; yield losses; pests; wintering; Ziban; Algeria

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