Multidimensional differentiation in foraging resource use during breeding of two sympatric top predators

Guilad Friedemann, Yossi Leshem, Lior Kerem, Boaz Shacham, Avi Bar-Massada, Krystaal M. McClain, Gil Bohrer, Ido Izhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ecologically-similar species were found to develop specific strategies to partition their resources, leading to niche differentiation and divergence, in order to avoid interspecific competition. Our study determines multi-dimensional differentiation of two sympatric top-predators, long-legged buzzards (LLB) and short-toed eagles (STE), which recently became sympatric during their breeding season in the Judean Foothills, Israel. By combining information from comprehensive diet and movement analyses we found four dimensions of differentiation: (1) Geographic foraging area: LLB tended to forage relatively close to their nests (2.35 ± 0.62 km), while STE forage far from their nest (13.03 ± 2.20 km); (2) Foraging-habitat type: LLBs forage at low natural vegetation, avoiding cultivated fields, whereas STEs forage in cultivated fields, avoiding low natural vegetation; (3) Diurnal dynamics of foraging: LLBs are uniformly active during daytime, whereas STEs activity peaks in the early afternoon; and (4) Food-niche: while both species largely rely on reptiles (47.8% and 76.3% for LLB and STE, respectively), LLB had a more diverse diet and consumed significantly higher percentages of lizards, while STE consumed significantly higher percentages of snakes. Our results suggest that this multidimensional differentiation allows the spatial coexistence of these two dense populations in the study area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35031
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2016

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