Enhancing dietary specialization metrics in observational studies of wild animal populations

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Andrews , C E , Ewen , J G & Thorogood , R 2020 , ' Enhancing dietary specialization metrics in observational studies of wild animal populations ' , Ecosphere , vol. 11 , no. 9 , 03255 . https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3255

Title: Enhancing dietary specialization metrics in observational studies of wild animal populations
Author: Andrews, Caitlin E.; Ewen, John G.; Thorogood, Rose
Other contributor: University of Helsinki, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)



Date: 2020-09
Language: eng
Number of pages: 15
Belongs to series: Ecosphere
ISSN: 2150-8925
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3255
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/320765
Abstract: Studies of intraspecific dietary variation can greatly enrich our view of a species' niche and role in the ecosystem, particularly when species with broad diets are found to be composed of generalist and specialist individuals. However, the current framework for quantifying dietary specialization leaves certain standards unformalized and is susceptible to overestimating specialization when there are few repeated observations per individual, as is often the case in observational studies of wild populations. Here, we use the hihi (Notiomystis cincta), a threatened New Zealand passerine, as a case study for demonstrating how existing statistical tools can be applied to strengthen the dietary specialization framework. First, we assess whether the reliability of common dietary measures can be improved through Bayesian adjustments and by using rarefaction to compare uncertainty levels of metrics calculated from different sample sizes. As diet links closely to environmental factors, we also demonstrate how adding phenological data and habitat assessments to standard protocols can help validate our dietary measures as evidence for resource selection rather than random foraging. Finally, in light of our finding that diet predicts survival in hihi, we discuss the utility of dietary specialization for elucidating broader behavioral syndromes.
Subject: dietary specialization
ecological niche
foraging
individual differences
intraspecific behavioral variation
niche differentiation
proportional similarity index
resource partitioning
INDIVIDUAL SPECIALIZATION
RESOURCE USE
ECOLOGY
SELECTION
HIHI
DOMINANCE
BEHAVIOR
PACKAGE
MODELS
CONSEQUENCES
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
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