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Seasonal and ontological variation in diet and age-related differences in prey choice, by an insectivorous songbird

Davies, Sarah R., Vaughan, Ian P. ORCID:, Thomas, Robert J. ORCID:, Drake, Lorna E., Marchbank, Angela and Symondson, William O.C. ORCID: 2022. Seasonal and ontological variation in diet and age-related differences in prey choice, by an insectivorous songbird. Ecology and Evolution 12 (8) , e9180.

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The diet of an individual animal is subject to change over time, both in response to short-term food fluctuations and over longer time scales as an individual ages and meets different challenges over its life cycle. A metabarcoding approach was used to elucidate the diet of different life stages of a migratory songbird, the Eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) over the 2017 summer breeding season in Somerset, the United Kingdom. The feces of adult, juvenile, and nestling warblers were screened for invertebrate DNA, enabling the identification of prey species. Dietary analysis was coupled with monitoring of Diptera in the field using yellow sticky traps. Seasonal changes in warbler diet were subtle, whereas age class had a greater influence on overall diet composition. Age classes showed high dietary overlap, but significant dietary differences were mediated through the selection of prey; (i) from different taxonomic groups, (ii) with different habitat origins (aquatic vs. terrestrial), and (iii) of different average approximate sizes. Our results highlight the value of metabarcoding data for enhancing ecological studies of insectivores in dynamic environments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 2045-7758
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 16 July 2022
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 21:25

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