Information on individual trophic specialization may be relevant to better understand the ecological adaptation of populations to their environment and the evolution of their realized trophic niche. In this study, we analysed the trophic specialization at the individual level in a population of the plethodontid Northwest Italian Cave Salamander (Speleomantes strinatii (Aellen, 1958)), a terrestrial generalist predator. Salamanders were sampled in northwestern Italy on the forest floor in autumn (n = 49) and spring (n = 47) along with their available prey. In autumn, when trophic resources showed a twofold reduction in abundance, the population trophic niche width (TNW = 2.58) was significantly broader than during spring (TNW = 2.25), and in both seasons, individual specialization (IS) was significantly higher than expected by chance (P = 0.001). There were no sexual or ontogenetic differences in IS within each season, but IS in autumn was significantly higher than in spring (IS = 0.34 and IS = 0.41, respectively; P = 0.01). These findings are in accordance with the niche variation hypothesis, which predicts a positive relationship between TNW and IS. Therefore, while the population became more generalist, individual salamanders shifted towards a more specialized diet by adapting their feeding behaviour to changes in prey availability.
|Titolo:||Trophic specialisation at the individual level in a terrestrial generalist salamander|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2015|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01.01 - Articolo su rivista|