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  The diet of great tit nestlings: Comparing observation records and stable isotope analyses

Pagani-Nunez, E., Renom, M., Mateos-Gonzalez, F., Cotin, J., & Senar, J. C. (2017). The diet of great tit nestlings: Comparing observation records and stable isotope analyses. Basic and Applied Ecology, 18, 57-66. doi:10.1016/j.baae.2016.11.004.

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Pagani-Nunez, Emilio, Author
Renom, María, Author
Mateos-Gonzalez, Fernando1, Author              
Cotin, Javier, Author
Senar, Juan Carlos, Author
Affiliations:
1Abteilung Couzin, Radolfzell, Max Planck Institut für Ornithologie, Max Planck Society, ou_2205648              

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 Abstract: The diet of wild animals has been studied using many different strategies, approaches and methods in recent decades. In this regard, stable isotopes analysis (SIA) is becoming a widespread tool, but no study has yet, to our knowledge, compared diet estimations from SIA with direct observations of the diet of passerine nestlings. Accordingly, our aim was to test the predictive power of SIA for this purpose and identify potential confounding factors such as habitat effects. To do this, we compared isotopic signatures of delta C-13 and delta N-15 in the feathers of great tit (Parus major) nestlings, and the corresponding estimates of their diet based on stable isotope mixing models, with prey proportions delivered by their parents obtained through video-recordings. Between-nest differences in isotopic signatures of delta N-15 were larger than within-nest differences. We found that delta N-15 signatures of nestling feathers correlated positively with the proportion of spiders and negatively with the proportion of caterpillars in the nestlings' diet, the most important prey types. On the other hand, between-nest and within-nest differences in delta C-13 ratios were of similar magnitude and delta C-13 ratios correlated mainly with the proportion of trees surrounding nest-boxes that were Quercus spp. Estimates of diet composition based on mixing models correlated with the observed nestling diet, yet effect sizes were quite low. Although mixing models are commonly used to ascertain diets, our data show that they can provide valuable information on the relative intake of prey types from different trophic levels; but when complex dietary patterns are recorded (e.g. due to the confounding effects of habitat and/or temporal variation) it can be difficult to draw firm conclusions about diet composition. (C) 2016 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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 Dates: 2017-02-01
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Identifiers: Other: WOS:000395478300007
DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2016.11.004
ISSN: 1439-1791
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Title: Basic and Applied Ecology
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Jena, Germany : Urban & Fischer
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 18 Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 57 - 66 Identifier: ISSN: 1439-1791
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/110975506072219