Multi-isotopic assessments of spatio-temporal diet variability: the case of two sympatric gulls in the western Mediterranean
Morera-Pujo, Virginia l
In predator populations, changes in foraging behaviour in response to spatio-temporal variability of prey are expected. Prey depletion might cause trophic niche widening in generalist species, but not in specialists, which are expected to increase their foraging effort without diet shifts. In sympatric species feeding on similar resources, reduced food availability can increase interspecific competition and cause trophic niche segregation. To understand these processes, we studied the spatio-temporal variability in diet and niche width in 2 sympatric gull species, the yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis and Audouin’s gull Ichthyaetus audouinii, which have experienced exponential growth in recent decades due to an increase in anthropogenic food subsidies. We sampled feathers from chicks of both species in several colonies along the western Mediterranean from 2009 to 2011 and performed stable isotope analysis of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur on these feathers. Bayesian modelling shows that both species displayed opportunistic behaviour if different types of resources were available, but could also narrow their trophic niche if 1 resource was abundant. We also provide evidence of trophic segregation between the 2 gull species, suggesting the occurrence of interspecific competition for food. Our meta-population approach provides a comprehensive view of the trophic ecology and the competitive interactions of these gull species. We emphasize the usefulness of 3-dimensional isotope analyses to correctly assess spatio-temporal variability in trophic behaviour of predator species, revealing differences that would remain hidden in single population studies or when using only the isotopic ratios of 2 elements.
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Morera-Pujol, V, R Ramos, N Pérez-Méndez, M Cerdà-Cuéllar, and J González-Solís. 2018. "Multi-Isotopic Assessments Of Spatio-Temporal Diet Variability: The Case Of Two Sympatric Gulls In The Western Mediterranean". Marine Ecology Progress Series 606: 201-214. Inter-Research Science Center. doi:10.3354/meps12763.
Grant agreement number
INIA/ /FAU2008-00012-C02-01/ES/Epidemiología de Salmonella y Campylobacter en granjas avícolas de cría al aire libre en relación con la proximidad de colonias de gaviotas/
MINECO/Programa Nacional de Proyectos de Investigación Fundamental/CGL2009-11278-BOS/ES/Ecología pelágica y estrategias migratorias de las aves marinas en el Atlántico/
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