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Trophic Resource Partitioning and Competition between the Two Sibling Bat Species Myotis myotis and Myotis blythii

Raphael Arlettaz, Nicolas Perrin and Jacques Hausser
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 66, No. 6 (Nov., 1997), pp. 897-911
DOI: 10.2307/6005
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/6005
Page Count: 15
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Trophic Resource Partitioning and Competition between the Two Sibling Bat Species Myotis myotis and Myotis blythii
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Abstract

1. Niche theory predicts that the stable coexistence of species within a guild should be associated, if resources are limited, with a mechanism of resource partitioning. Using extensive data on diets, the present study attempts: (i) to test the hypothesis that, in sympatry, the interspecific overlap between the trophic niches of the sibling bat species Myotis myotis and M. blythii--which coexist intimately in their roosts--is effectively lower than the two intraspecific overlaps; (ii) to assess the role played by interspecific competition in resource partitioning through the study of trophic niche displacement between several sympatric and allopatric populations. 2. Diets were determined by the analysis of faecal samples collected in the field from individual bats captured in various geographical areas. Trophic niche overlaps were calculated monthly for all possible intraspecific and interspecific pairs of individuals from sympatric populations. Niche breadth was estimated from: (i) every faecal sample; (ii) all the faecal samples collected per month in a given population (geographical area). 3. In every population, the bulk of the diets of M. myotis and M. blythii consisted of, respectively, terrestrial (e.g. carabid beetles) and grass-dwelling (mostly bush crickets) prey. All intraspecific trophic niche overlaps were significantly greater than the interspecific one, except in Switzerland in May when both species exploited mass concentrations of cockchafers, a non-limiting food source. This clearcut partitioning of resources may allow the stable, intimate coexistence observed under sympatric conditions. 4. Relative proportions of ground- and grass-dwelling prey, as well as niche breadths (either individual or population), did not differ significantly between sympatry and allopatry, showing that, under allopatric conditions, niche expansion does not take place. This suggests that active interspecific competition is not the underlying mechanism responsible for the niche partitioning which is currently observed between M. myotis and M. blythii.

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