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Seasonal variation of population and individual dietary niche in the avivorous bat, Ia io

Cite this dataset

Gong, Lixin; Jiang, Tinglei (2023). Seasonal variation of population and individual dietary niche in the avivorous bat, Ia io [Dataset]. Dryad.


The variation in niche breadth can affect how species respond to environmental and resource changes. However, there is still no clear understanding of how seasonal variability in food resources impacts the variation of individual dietary diversity, thereby affecting the dynamics of a population’s dietary niche breadth. Optimal foraging theory (OFT) and the niche variation hypothesis (NVH) predict that when food resources are limited, the population niche breadth will widen or narrow due to increased within-individual dietary diversity and individual specialization or reduced within-individual dietary diversity, respectively. Here, we used DNA metabarcoding to examine the composition and seasonality of diets of the avivorous bat Ia io. Furthermore, we investigated how the dietary niches changed among seasons and how the population niche breadth changed when the availability of insect resources was reduced in autumn. We found that there was differentiation in dietary niches among seasons and a low degree of overlap, and the decrease of insect resource availability and the emergence of ecological opportunities of nocturnal migratory birds might drive dietary niche shifts toward birds in I. io. However, the population’s dietary niche breadth did not broaden by increasing the within-individual dietary diversity or individual specialization but rather became narrower by reducing dietary diversity via predation on bird resources that served as an ecological opportunity when insect resources were scarce in autumn. Our findings were consistent with the predictions of OFT because birds as prey for bats provided extremely different resources from those of insects in size and nutritional value. Our work highlights the importance of size and quality of prey resources along with other factors (i.e., physiological, behavioral, and life-history traits) in dietary niche variation.

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National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31922050

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31872680

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31872681

Fund of the Jilin Province Science and Technology Development Project, Award: 20200201186JC

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Award: 2412023YQ002

Special Foundation for National Science and Technology Basic Research Program of China, Award: 2021FY100301