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Seasonal patterns of dietary partitioning in vertebrates

Cite this dataset

Porter, Cody (2022). Seasonal patterns of dietary partitioning in vertebrates [Dataset]. Dryad.


Dietary partitioning plays a central role in biological communities, yet the extent of partitioning often varies dramatically over time. Food availability may drive temporal variation in dietary partitioning, but alternative paradigms offer contrasting predictions about its effect. We compiled estimates of dietary overlap between co-occurring vertebrates to test whether partitioning is greater during periods of high or low food abundance. We found that dietary partitioning was generally greatest when food abundance was low, suggesting that competition for limited food drives partitioning. The extent of dietary partitioning in birds and mammals was also related to seasonality in primary productivity. As seasonality increased, partitioning increased during the nonbreeding season for birds and the breeding season for mammals. Although some hypotheses invoke changes in dietary breadth to explain temporal variation in dietary partitioning, we found no association between dietary breadth and partitioning. These results have important implications for the evolution of dietary divergence.


Robert Berry Ecology Center Endowment

Robert Berry Chair Endowment

Biodiversity Graduate Student Research Enhancement Award