Niche overlap between two large herbivores across landscape variability using dietary eDNA metabarcoding: Raw sequences of European bison and red deer – Bialowieza
Cite this dataset
Mas-Carrió, Eduard (2022). Niche overlap between two large herbivores across landscape variability using dietary eDNA metabarcoding: Raw sequences of European bison and red deer – Bialowieza [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.k0p2ngfbn
Understanding the trophic ecology of herbivore species is key to assess their environmental requirements and to improve management policies, but measuring their trophic interactions remains challenging. Among the methods available, quantifying the plant composition of a species' diet provides a detailed picture of how species exploit the resources in their environment and their associated niche overlap. Yet, most studies focusing on herbivore trophic ecology ignore the influence that landscape variability may have. Here, we studied how landscape variability influences trophic interactions through niche partitioning. We used eDNA metabarcoding to quantify the diet composition of two large herbivores of the Bialowieza Forest, red deer (Cervus elaphus) and European bison (Bison bonasus, hereafter referred to as bison) to investigate how increasing habitat quality and predation risk in their environment influence their diet composition and niche partitioning. We found red deer to have an overall greater diet variability and lower niche overlap within species compared to bison. Moreover, our findings indicate herbivore interactions are non-homogeneous across the landscape. Higher habitat quality was associated with higher niche overlap only within bison. We also detected an increase in niche overlap with increasing predation risk within red deer, indicating they modify their diet choice as a reaction to wolf predation risk. This study provides evidence of eDNA dietary metabarcoding as a useful tool for wildlife management to assess the status of species in an ecosystem based on known environmental factors. We suggest future studies to integrate the environments' variability when studying trophic ecology of herbivores to capture the whole extent of species interaction in order to improve conservation and management guidelines.
Canton Vaud FBM