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Same Diet, Different Strategies: Variability of Individual Feeding Habits across Three Populations of Ambrosi’s Cave Salamander (Hydromantes ambrosii)
Open AccessArticle

Feeding Strategies of Co-occurring Newt Species across Different Conditions of Syntopy: A Test of the “Within-Population Niche Variation” Hypothesis

1
Department of Sciences, Roma Tre University, Viale Marconi, 446, 00146 Rome, Italy
2
IDECC, Institute for Development, Ecology, Conservation and Cooperation, via G. Tomasi di Lampedusa 33, 00144 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(5), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12050181
Received: 15 April 2020 / Revised: 3 May 2020 / Accepted: 5 May 2020 / Published: 7 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecological Role of Salamanders as Predators and Prey)
Intraspecific trait variation in generalist animals is widespread in nature, yet its effects on community ecology are not well understood. Newts are considered opportunistic feeders that may co-occur in different syntopic conditions and represent an excellent model for studying the role of individual feeding specialization in shaping the population dietary strategy. Here, we investigated the diet of three newt species from central Italy occurring in artificial habitats in different coexistence conditions to test the predictions of the niche width (NW) variation hypotheses. Population NW did not vary among species and between presence and absence of coexisting species. An overall positive relationship between individual specialization and population NW was observed. However, this pattern was disrupted by the condition of syntopy with newt populations showing an individual NW variation invariant with population NW in presence of coexisting species, whereas it was larger in populations occurring alone. The observed pattern of newt behavior was not consistent with any of the proposed scenarios. We found a consistent pattern with the degree of individual specialization being (1) size-dependent (specialized individuals increasing within larger sized species) and (2) assemblage-complexity-dependent (specialized individuals increasing in syntopic populations in comparison to singly populations). View Full-Text
Keywords: community ecology; Triturus; Lissotriton; coexisting species; trophic niche; niche width; niche variation hypothesis community ecology; Triturus; Lissotriton; coexisting species; trophic niche; niche width; niche variation hypothesis
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Mirabasso, J.; Bissattini, A.M.; Bologna, M.A.; Luiselli, L.; Stellati, L.; Vignoli, L. Feeding Strategies of Co-occurring Newt Species across Different Conditions of Syntopy: A Test of the “Within-Population Niche Variation” Hypothesis. Diversity 2020, 12, 181.

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