The contribution of the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) to the winter diet of frugivores in novel ecosystems

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Abstract

With the increasing expansion in urban areas, many species have adapted to utilising horticulturally used plants as alternate or augmentary food sources, in particular, during winter – when native foods are largely absent. Ornamental palms, particularly Canary Island Date Palms, fruit continuously during most of the year and thus provide a stable food supply. Based on observational, metric and bio-chemical data, this paper examines the role Canary Island Date Palms can and do play in the nutrition of frugivorous animals, in particular, for birds. It demonstrates that with its nearly year-round provisioning of drupes, the palm plays a major role as a ‘staple’ and backup food source for several species.

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