Isotopic niches support the resource breadth hypothesis

Journal of Animal Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

  1. Because a broad spectrum of resource use allows species to persist in a wide range of habitat types, and thus permits them to occupy large geographical areas, and because broadly distributed species have access to more diverse resource bases, the resource breadth hypothesis posits that the diversity of resources used by organisms should be positively related with the extent of their geographic ranges.
  2. We investigated isotopic niche width in a small radiation of South American birds in the genus Cinclodes. We analysed feathers of 12 species of Cinclodes to test the isotopic version of the resource breadth hypothesis and to examine the correlation between isotopic niche breadth and morphology.
  3. We found a positive correlation between the widths of hydrogen and oxygen isotopic niches (which estimate breadth of elevational range) and widths of the carbon and nitrogen isotopic niches (which estimates the diversity of resources consumed, and hence of habitats used). We also found a positive correlation between broad isotopic niches and wing morphology.
  4. Our study not only supports the resource breadth hypothesis but it also highlights the usefulness of stable isotope analyses as tools in the exploration of ecological niches. It is an example of a macroecological application of stable isotopes. It also illustrates the importance of scientific collections in ecological studies.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Isotopic niches support the resource breadth hypothesis
Series title Journal of Animal Ecology
DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.12629
Volume 86
Issue 2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher British Ecological Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 405
Last page 413