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Data from: Molecular diet analysis finds an insectivorous desert bat community dominated by resource sharing despite diverse echolocation and foraging strategies

Citation

Gordon, Rowena et al. (2019), Data from: Molecular diet analysis finds an insectivorous desert bat community dominated by resource sharing despite diverse echolocation and foraging strategies, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7j0c8dm

Abstract

Interspecific differences in traits can alter the relative niche use of species within the same environment. Bats provide an excellent model to study niche use because they have a wide variety of behavioural, acoustic and morphological traits that may lead to multi-species, functional groups. Predatory bats have been classified by their foraging location (edge, clutter, open space), ability to aerial hawk and/or substrate glean prey and echolocation call design and flexibility, all of which may dictate their diet. For example, high frequency, broadband calls do not travel far but offer high object resolution while high intensity, low frequency calls travel further but provide lower resolution. Because these behaviours can be flexible four behavioural categories have been proposed: (1) gleaning, (2) behaviourally flexible (gleaning and hawking), (3) clutter tolerant hawking, and (4) open space hawking. Recent studies of diet in bats use molecular tools to identify prey but mainly focus on one or two species in isolation and few studies provide evidence for substantial differences in prey use despite the many behavioural, acoustic and morphological differences. Here we analyse the diet of 17 sympatric species in the Chihuahuan desert and test the hypothesis that peak echolocation frequency and behavioural categories are linked to differences in diet. We find no significant correlation between dietary richness and echolocation frequency (though it spanned close to 100kHz across species). However, our data suggest that behaviourally flexible bats that use gleaning and aerial hawking have the broadest diets and are the most differentiated from clutter-tolerant aerial hawking species.

Usage Notes

Location

Big Bend National Park