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Data from: Realized trophic niche driven by apparent competition: an example with marsupials


Kuhnen, Vanessa V.; de Aguiar, Marcus A. Martinez; Gonçalves, Ana Zangirolame; Setz., Eleonore Zulnara Freire (2017), Data from: Realized trophic niche driven by apparent competition: an example with marsupials, Dryad, Dataset,


According to apparent competition theory, the co-occurrence of two species that share the same predators appears to affect each other's population growth and abundance. However, due to habitat loss and over-hunting, top predators are being made rare worldwide. Considering that apparent competitors share similar resources, we would expect the absence of top predators to reflect in changes on prey realized trophic niches. To test our hypothesis, we developed a model to predict the abundance ratio of apparent competitor species based on changes in their realized trophic niches. We tested our model against field data on the Neotropical marsupials Didelphis aurita and Metachirus nudicaudatus. Our results revealed that D. aurita and M. nudicaudatus are two species under apparent competition and their realized trophic niche and diet overlap change according to the presence of top predators. The model was able to predict the actual relative abundances of D. aurita and M. nudicaudatus in the three empirical studies analyzed. Our study presents quantitative support to the apparent competition theory; however, the model's applications to other groups still need to be verified. Additionally, our study shows that the lack of top predators has consequences on the realized trophic niche of their prey, and therefore, we reinforce that conservation plans need to focus on the effects of top predator loss on ecosystems.

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Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar
Atlantic Rainforest