The invertebrate diet of Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix chicks: a comparison between northern England and the Scottish Highlands
Capsule: Conservation programmes for Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix need to consider managements that increase invertebrates for chicks.
Aims: To compare invertebrates in chick diet between habitat and region and to relate abundance of preferred invertebrates to Black Grouse breeding success.
Methods: Chick faeces were collected from roosts in the Pennines (northern England) and Perthshire (Scottish Highlands) to identify invertebrates eaten. Larval abundance was determined by sweep netting (Pennines) and related to Black Grouse breeding success.
Results: Invertebrates were recovered out of 98 faecal samples from 63 broods. Ants were more numerous in chick diet in Perthshire, with larvae (both sawflies and moths) more numerous in the Pennines. Sawfly larval abundance was positively correlated with Black Grouse breeding success in the Pennines.
Conclusions: Management for Black Grouse should promote high invertebrate abundance to maintain high breeding success. This may be achieved through creating low-intensity grazed moorland fringes to encourage Bilberry, and associated moth caterpillars, adjacent to areas of higher grazing intensity to retain grasses and rushes that host sawfly larvae.