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Seasonal and ontological variation in diet and age-related differences in prey choice, by an insectivorous songbird
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  • Sarah Davies,
  • Ian Vaughan,
  • R Thomas,
  • Angela Marchbank,
  • Lorna Drake,
  • W.O.C. Symondson
Sarah Davies
Cardiff University School of Biosciences
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Ian Vaughan
Cardiff University School of Biosciences
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R Thomas
Cardiff University School of Biosciences
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Angela Marchbank
Cardiff University School of Biosciences
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Lorna Drake
Cardiff University School of Biosciences
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W.O.C. Symondson
Cardiff University School of Biosciences
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Abstract

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 songbird, the Eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) over the summer breeding season of 2017. The faeces of adult, juvenile and nestling warblers were screened for invertebrate DNA, enabling 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 versus 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.
24 Jun 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
27 Jun 2022Submission Checks Completed
27 Jun 2022Assigned to Editor
27 Jun 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
27 Jun 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
15 Jul 20221st Revision Received
16 Jul 2022Submission Checks Completed
16 Jul 2022Assigned to Editor
16 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Aug 2022Published in Ecology and Evolution volume 12 issue 8. 10.1002/ece3.9180