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What shapes the trophic niche of European plethodontid salamanders?

  • The trophic niche is a life trait that identifies the consumer’s position in a local food web. Several factors, such as ontogeny, competitive ability and resource availability contribute in shaping species trophic niches. To date, information on the diet of European Hydromantes salamanders are only available for a limited number of species, no dietary studies have involved more than one species of the genus at a time, and there are limited evidences on how multiple factors interact in determining diet variation. In this study we examined the diet of multiple populations of six out of the eight European cave salamanders, providing the first data on the diet for five of them. In addition, we assessed whether these closely related generalist species show similar diet and, for each species, we tested whether season, age class or sex influence the number and the type of prey consumed. Stomach condition (empty/full) and the number of prey consumed were strongly related to seasonality and to the activity level of individuals. Empty stomachs were more frequent in autumn, in individuals far from cave entrance and in juveniles. Diet composition was significantly different among species. Hydromantes imperialis and H. supramontis were the most generalist species; H. flavus and H. sarrabusensis fed mostly on Hymenoptera and Coleoptera Staphylinidae, while H. genei and H. ambrosii mostly consumed Arachnida and Endopterygota larvae. Furthermore, we detected seasonal shifts of diet in the majority of the species examined. Conversely, within each species, we did not find diet differences between females, males and juveniles. Although being assumed to have very similar dietary habits, here Hydromantes species were shown to be characterized by a high divergence in diet composition and in the stomach condition of individuals.

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Author:Enrico LunghiORCiD, Fabio Cianferoni, Filippo Ceccolini, Michael Veith, Raoul Manenti, Giorgio Mancinelli, Claudia Corti, Gentile Francesco Ficetola
Parent Title (English):Plos ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Place of publication:San Francisco, California
Editor:Bruno Bellisario
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2019/01/16
Date of publication:2018/10/18
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2019/01/17
Tag:Diet; Predation; Salamanders; Stomach; Trophic interactions
GND Keyword:Höhlensalamander; Mageninhalt; Nahrung
Issue / no.:13 /10
Number of pages:17
Source:PLoS ONE 13 (2018)
Institutes:Fachbereich 6 / Raum- und Umweltwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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