Data from: Resource partitioning confirmed by isotopic signatures allows small mammals to share seasonally flooded meadows
Balčiauskas, Linas; Skipitytė, Raminta; Balčiauskienė, Laima; Jasiulionis, Marius (2019), Data from: Resource partitioning confirmed by isotopic signatures allows small mammals to share seasonally flooded meadows, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2rc8s7m
Meadows in river deltas are characterized by a high diversity and abundance of small mammals. However, neither their spatial arrangement nor differences in their use of microhabitat can necessarily explain the dense co‐occurrence of sympatric species. We investigated how several small mammal species share a seasonally flooded meadow of limited size, testing predictions (P1) that herbivore, granivore, insectivore, and omnivore species are separated in time (dominant in different years), (P2) that sympatric species undergo isotopic partitioning, and (P3) that there are intraspecific differences in diet. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures in the hair of seven synantropic shrew, vole, and mice species were used as a proxy for their diet. We found that the three most abundant species in eight of the nine years were from different diet groups. However, based on the number of species in the functional groups, the state of small mammal community was considered unfavored in five out of the nine investigation years. In years with the greatest dominance of Apodemus agrarius, the small mammal community was characterized by decreased diversity and Micromys minutus was either in low abundance or absent. In 2014 and 2016, years of low abundance or absence of M. oeconomus, M. agrestis, and M. glareolus were both recorded in high numbers. Differences in the isotopic signatures of the three most abundant small mammal species in the community were clearly expressed and core areas in the isotopic space were separated, showing their dependence on different dietary resources. Intraspecific dietary separation between young and adult animals was observed only in M. oeconomus. Thus, the high species diversity of small mammals and the formation of their community in this investigated flooded meadow are maintained by isotopic partitioning (segregation in dietary space) and by changes in their number over time (shifting dominance).