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Trophic niche partitioning of cryptic species of long-eared bats in Switzerland: implications for conservation
Ashrafi S, Beck A, Rutishauser M, Arlettaz R, Bontadina F
Type of Publication:
Reviewed Journal Article
European Journal of Wildlife Research, 2011, V57, N4, AUG, pp 843-849 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10344-011-0496-z.
Dietary niche partitioning is postulated to play a major role for the stable coexistence of species within a community, particularly among cryptic species. Molecular markers have recently revealed the existence of a new cryptic species of long-eared bat, Plecotus macrobullaris, in the European Alps. We studied trophic niches as well as seasonal and regional variations of diet in eight colonies of the three Plecotus species occurring in Switzerland. Faeces were collected monthly from individuals returning to roost after foraging. Twenty-one arthropod categories were recognized from the faeces. All three species fed predominantly on Lepidoptera, which made up 41%, 87% and 88% (means across colonies) of the diet composition of P. auritus, P. macrobullaris and P. austriacus, respectively. The occurrence of numerous fragments of both diurnal and flightless insects in the diet of P. auritus (but rarely in the diet of the other two species) indicates that this species mostly gleans prey from substrates. P. austriacus and P. macrobullaris are more typical aerial feeders. The latter two species have narrow trophic niches, whilst P. auritus has a much broader diet. Comparison of intraspecific and interspecific niche overlaps in P. auritus and P. macrobullaris in sympatry suggests dietary niche partitioning between these two species. In contrast, the high similarity of the trophic niches of P. austriacus and P. macrobullaris, associated with a typical parapatric distribution, indicates competitive exclusion. The best conservation measures are preservation and restoration of habitats offering a high abundance of moths, the major prey of the three Plecotus species.
1.2 Terrestrial Ecosystems
Zoology , Biodiversity , Ecology
pipistrellus pipistrellus; vespertilionid bats; habitat selection; myotis blythii; plecotus; chiroptera; abundance; food; intensification; segregation
cryptic species; niche partitioning; niche breadth; niche overlap; plecotus; switzerland
S Ashrafi, Univ Tehran, Dept Environm Sci, Fac Nat Resources, Pob 31585 4314, Karaj, Iran ; Research Addresses: Sohrab Ashrafi: Univ Tehran, Dept Environm Sci, Fac Nat Resources, Karaj, Iran; Marianne Rutishauser, Raphael Arlettaz, Fabio Bontadina: Univ Bern, Inst Ecol & Evolut, Div Conservat Biol, CH 3012 Bern, Switzerland; Andres Beck: Swild Urban Ecol & Wildlife Res, CH 8003 Zurich, Switzerland ; Email: Soh_ashrafi@yahoo.com
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