Funded by the Hon. Vincent Weir through the Bat Conservation Trust, UK, and from the Danish National Research Foundation GeoGenetics grant (MTPG). ELC was funded through a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada post-doctoral fellowship.
High-throughput sequencing offers insight into mechanisms of resource partitioning in cryptic bat species
Article first published online: 30 NOV 2011
© 2011 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 1, Issue 4, pages 556–570, December 2011
How to Cite
Razgour, O., Clare, E. L., Zeale, M. R. K., Hanmer, J., Schnell, I. B., Rasmussen, M., Gilbert, T. P. and Jones, G. (2011), High-throughput sequencing offers insight into mechanisms of resource partitioning in cryptic bat species. Ecology and Evolution, 1: 556–570. doi: 10.1002/ece3.49
- Issue published online: 22 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 30 NOV 2011
- Received: 08 September 2011; Accepted: 13 September 2011
- interspecific competition;
- molecular scatology;
- next generation sequencing;
Sympatric cryptic species, characterized by low morphological differentiation, pose a challenge to understanding the role of interspecific competition in structuring ecological communities. We used traditional (morphological) and novel molecular methods of diet analysis to study the diet of two cryptic bat species that are sympatric in southern England (Plecotus austriacus and P. auritus) (Fig. 1). Using Roche FLX 454 (Roche, Basel, CH) high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and uniquely tagged generic arthropod primers, we identified 142 prey Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs) in the diet of the cryptic bats, 60% of which were assigned to a likely species or genus. The findings from the molecular study supported the results of microscopic analyses in showing that the diets of both species were dominated by lepidopterans. However, HTS provided a sufficiently high resolution of prey identification to determine fine-scale differences in resource use. Although both bat species appeared to have a generalist diet, eared-moths from the family Noctuidae were the main prey consumed. Interspecific niche overlap was greater than expected by chance (Ojk= 0.72, P < 0.001) due to overlap in the consumption of the more common prey species. Yet, habitat associations of nongeneralist prey species found in the diets corresponded to those of their respective bat predator (grasslands for P. austriacus, and woodland for P. auritus). Overlap in common dietary resource use combined with differential specialist prey habitat associations suggests that habitat partitioning is the primary mechanism of coexistence. The performance of HTS is discussed in relation to previous methods of molecular and morphological diet analysis. By enabling species-level identification of dietary components, the application of DNA sequencing to diet analysis allows a more comprehensive comparison of the diet of sympatric cryptic species, and therefore can be an important tool for determining fine-scale mechanisms of coexistence.