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Novel tri-isotope ellipsoid approach reveals dietary variation in sympatric predators

Lookup NU author(s): Christina Skinner, Professor Aileen MillORCiD, Dr Steven Newman, Dr Matthew CobainORCiD, Professor Nick Polunin



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Sympatric species may partition resources to reduce competition and facilitate co-existence. While spatial variation and specialization in feeding strategies may be prevalent among large marine predators, studies have focussed on sharks, birds, and marine mammals. We consider for the first time the isotopic niche partitioning of co-occurring, teleost reef predators spanning multiple families. Using a novel tri-isotope ellipsoid approach, we investigate the feeding strategies of seven of these species across an atoll seascape in the Maldives. We demonstrate substantial spatial variation in resource use of all predator populations. Furthermore, within each area, there was evidence of intraspecific variation in feeding behaviors that could not wholly be attributed to individual body size. Assessing species at the population level will mask these intraspecific differences in resource use. Knowledge of resource use is important for predicting how species will respond to environmental change and spatial variation should be considered when investigating trophic diversity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Skinner C, Mill AC, Newman SP, Newton J, Cobain MRD, Polunin NVC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecology and Evolution

Year: 2019

Volume: 9

Issue: 23

Pages: 13267-13277

Print publication date: 01/12/2019

Online publication date: 04/11/2019

Acceptance date: 04/10/2019

Date deposited: 21/11/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2045-7758

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1002/ece3.5779


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