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Who’s for dinner? Bird prey diversity and choice in the great evening bat, Ia io

Cite this dataset

Gong, Lixin et al. (2022). Who’s for dinner? Bird prey diversity and choice in the great evening bat, Ia io [Dataset]. Dryad.


The mysterious predator-prey interaction between bats and nocturnally migrating birds is a very rare and incredible process in natural ecosystems. So far only three avivorous bat species, including two noctule bats (Nyctalus lasiopterus and Nyctalus aviator) and the great evening bat (Ia io), are known to regularly prey on songbirds during nocturnal avian migration. The information related to the diversity and the characteristics of the birds as prey, as well as the hunting strategy in both species of noctule bats are already clear. However, the diversity of bird prey in the diet of I. io as confirmed by molecular identification remains unknown. Moreover, like hunting insects, it remains unclear if the avivorous bats opportunistically prey on birds. Here, we used DNA metabarcoding to investigate the bird prey composition, diversity, and choice in diets of I. io. We found I. io consumed 22 species of seven families from Passeriformes with a body mass of 6–19 g, and preferentially selected small-sized passerine birds for optimizing the benefit/risk trade-off. Moreover, most of the species preyed upon were migratory birds, while four species were local resident birds, indicating that I. io may adopt both aerial-hawking and gleaning strategies on songbirds as do the other two noctules. Further, I. io body mass did not influence in prey choice and predation richness on birds, suggesting I. io is an opportunistic avivorous predator. This study provides novel insights into the avian dietary ecology of I. io and completes the analysis of predator/prey interaction between three avivorous bats and nocturnally migrating birds. Our results also indicate bat predation on birds which occurs as an act of ecological opportunity may subject bats to intense natural selection pressure, causing them access to the new diet-defined adaptive zones.

Usage notes

Representative sequences for each MOTU.
OTU table used for data analysis which removed those MOTUs that represented less than 1% of the total sequences for each sample.
This data set includes sample information, and raw data (Data 1 and Data 2) used for statistical analysis.
Data 1 used for generalized linear model (GLM) analysis to determine the key factors affecting predation richness (PR).
Data 2 used for simple linear regression to test the correlation between body mass of bats and birds.