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Data from: Community structure of a Neotropical bat fauna as revealed by stable isotope analysis: Not all species fit neatly into predicted guilds

Citation

Oelbaum, Phillip J.; Fenton, M. Brock; Simmons, Nancy B.; Broders, Hugh G. (2019), Data from: Community structure of a Neotropical bat fauna as revealed by stable isotope analysis: Not all species fit neatly into predicted guilds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.88sf103

Abstract

Neotropical bat communities are among the most diverse mammal communities in the world, and a better understanding of these assemblages may permit inferences about how so many species coexist. While broad trophic guilds (e.g., frugivore, insectivore) of bats are recognized, details of diet and similarities among species remain largely unknown. We used stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) to characterize the community structure of a diverse Neotropical bat fauna from Belize to test predictions of niche theory and the competitive exclusion principle. We predicted that (1) interspecific variation in isotopic overlap would be greater within guilds than between guilds, and (2) no two sympatric populations would have isotopic niches that overlap completely, unless there is variation along some other axis (e.g., temporal, spatial). We additionally tested body size as an explanatory metric of potential overlap, and predicted that larger-bodied animals would have greater niche breadths. Results suggest that while guild-level characterizations of communities is at least somewhat informative, there are multiple examples of intra- and inter-guild species pairs with significantly overlapping isotopic niches, suggesting that, counter to predictions, they may compete for resources. Understanding the trophic structure of animal communities is fundamental to conservation and management of endangered species and ecosystems and important for evolutionary studies, and stable isotope analyses can provide key insights as well as informing hypotheses of the diet of species that are not well known.

Usage Notes

Location

Ka'kabish Archaeological Reserve
Orange Walk
Lamanai Archaeological Reserve
Belize