Advanced

Trait-based functional dietary analysis provides a better insight into the foraging ecology of bats

Arrizabalaga-Escudero, Aitor ; Merckx, Thomas ; García-Baquero, Gonzalo ; Wahlberg, Niklas LU ; Aizpurua, Ostaizka ; Garin, Inazio ; Goiti, Urtzi and Aihartza, Joxerra (2019) In The Journal of animal ecology 88(10). p.1587-1600
Abstract

The degree of trophic specialization determines the ability of predators to cope with changing foraging conditions, but in predators that prey on hundreds of species it is challenging to assess, especially when prey identity varies among predator individuals and across space and time. Here, we test the hypothesis that a bat species foraging on flying insects like moths will show ample flexibility in trophic niche, and this irrespective of phylogenetic relationships among moths, so as to cope with a high diversity of prey types that vary across seasons. We predict that individual bats will show functional dietary differences consistent with energetic requirements and hunting skills. We used DNA metabarcoding to determine the diet of 126... (More)

The degree of trophic specialization determines the ability of predators to cope with changing foraging conditions, but in predators that prey on hundreds of species it is challenging to assess, especially when prey identity varies among predator individuals and across space and time. Here, we test the hypothesis that a bat species foraging on flying insects like moths will show ample flexibility in trophic niche, and this irrespective of phylogenetic relationships among moths, so as to cope with a high diversity of prey types that vary across seasons. We predict that individual bats will show functional dietary differences consistent with energetic requirements and hunting skills. We used DNA metabarcoding to determine the diet of 126 Mediterranean horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus euryale) from two different sites during three seasons. Simultaneously, we measured moth availability and characterized the traits of 290 moth taxa. Next, we explored the relationship between phylogeny and traits of all consumed and available moth taxa. Finally, we assessed the relationship between individual traits of bats and traits related to prey profitability, for which we used the RLQ and fourth-corner statistical techniques. Seasonality was the main factor explaining the functional dietary variation in adult bats, with moths consumed irrespective of their phylogenetic relationships. While adults consumed moths with a broad range in wing loading, body mass and echolocation detection ability, juveniles consumed slower, smaller and lighter moths, which suggests that young individuals may undergo some fitness gain and/or psychomotor learning process during which they would acquire more effective foraging skills. Our approach revealed a degree of functional flexibility in the trophic niche previously unknown for an insectivorous bat. Rhinolophus euryale consumed a wide variety of moth taxa differing in profitability throughout seasons and between ontogenetic stages. We showed the validity of trait-based approaches to gain new insights in the trophic specialization of predators consuming hundreds of species of prey.

(Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
; ; ; ; ; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Chiroptera, DNA metabarcoding, fourth-corner, functional traits, moths, niche flexibility, RLQ
in
The Journal of animal ecology
volume
88
issue
10
pages
14 pages
publisher
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd
external identifiers
  • pmid:31310329
  • scopus:85073082685
ISSN
1365-2656
DOI
10.1111/1365-2656.13055
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
65d15898-5830-4105-8b8c-c955ec427d8c
date added to LUP
2019-10-22 14:16:29
date last changed
2021-04-11 05:30:13
@article{65d15898-5830-4105-8b8c-c955ec427d8c,
  abstract     = {<p>The degree of trophic specialization determines the ability of predators to cope with changing foraging conditions, but in predators that prey on hundreds of species it is challenging to assess, especially when prey identity varies among predator individuals and across space and time. Here, we test the hypothesis that a bat species foraging on flying insects like moths will show ample flexibility in trophic niche, and this irrespective of phylogenetic relationships among moths, so as to cope with a high diversity of prey types that vary across seasons. We predict that individual bats will show functional dietary differences consistent with energetic requirements and hunting skills. We used DNA metabarcoding to determine the diet of 126 Mediterranean horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus euryale) from two different sites during three seasons. Simultaneously, we measured moth availability and characterized the traits of 290 moth taxa. Next, we explored the relationship between phylogeny and traits of all consumed and available moth taxa. Finally, we assessed the relationship between individual traits of bats and traits related to prey profitability, for which we used the RLQ and fourth-corner statistical techniques. Seasonality was the main factor explaining the functional dietary variation in adult bats, with moths consumed irrespective of their phylogenetic relationships. While adults consumed moths with a broad range in wing loading, body mass and echolocation detection ability, juveniles consumed slower, smaller and lighter moths, which suggests that young individuals may undergo some fitness gain and/or psychomotor learning process during which they would acquire more effective foraging skills. Our approach revealed a degree of functional flexibility in the trophic niche previously unknown for an insectivorous bat. Rhinolophus euryale consumed a wide variety of moth taxa differing in profitability throughout seasons and between ontogenetic stages. We showed the validity of trait-based approaches to gain new insights in the trophic specialization of predators consuming hundreds of species of prey.</p>},
  author       = {Arrizabalaga-Escudero, Aitor and Merckx, Thomas and García-Baquero, Gonzalo and Wahlberg, Niklas and Aizpurua, Ostaizka and Garin, Inazio and Goiti, Urtzi and Aihartza, Joxerra},
  issn         = {1365-2656},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {10},
  pages        = {1587--1600},
  publisher    = {Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd},
  series       = {The Journal of animal ecology},
  title        = {Trait-based functional dietary analysis provides a better insight into the foraging ecology of bats},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13055},
  doi          = {10.1111/1365-2656.13055},
  volume       = {88},
  year         = {2019},
}