University of Oulu

Arrizabalaga‐Escudero, A, Merckx, T, García‐Baquero, G, et al. Trait‐based functional dietary analysis provides a better insight into the foraging ecology of bats. J Anim Ecol. 2019; 88: 1587–1600. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13055

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

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Author: Arrizabalaga‐Escudero, Aitor1; Merckx, Thomas2,3; García‐Baquero, Gonzalo4;
Organizations: 1Department of Zoology and Animal Cell Biology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Leioa, The Basque Country
2Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Group, Biodiversity Research Centre, Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Leioa, The Basque Country
5Department of Biology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
6Section for Evolutionary Genomics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: embargoed
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi-fe2019101132259
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons,
Publish Date: 2020-07-16
Description:

Abstract

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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Series: Journal of animal ecology
ISSN: 0021-8790
ISSN-E: 1365-2656
ISSN-L: 0021-8790
Volume: 88
Issue: 10
Pages: 1587 - 1600
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13055
OADOI: https://oadoi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13055
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Subjects:
RLQ
Funding: The Government of the Basque Country (Grant No. BFI‐2011‐245) and the University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU (UPV/EHUn Doktorego ondoko prestakuntza programetan sartu arte doktore berriak kontratatzeko deialdia 2016) provided grant support to AAE. The Basque Government (project IT754‐13) and the Spanish Government (MINECO project CGL2012‐38610) funded this work.
Copyright information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Arrizabalaga‐Escudero, A, Merckx, T, García‐Baquero, G, et al. Trait‐based functional dietary analysis provides a better insight into the foraging ecology of bats. J Anim Ecol. 2019; 88: 1587–1600, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13055. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.