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Trophic generalism at the population level in ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae)

  • Marcin Zalewski (a1), Dorota Dudek-Godeau (a2), Jean-François Godeau (a3), Krzysztof Kujawa (a4), Paweł Sienkiewicz (a5), Alexei V. Tiunov (a6) and Werner Ulrich (a7)...

A growing body of evidence suggests trophic generalism (feeding on resources from more than one trophic level and/or on different resources of the same trophic level) is a widespread feature among ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae). However, it remains unclear whether trophic generalism applies to single individuals, at the intrapopulation or interpopulation level. Here we present stable isotope data (δ15N, δ13C) of seven common European carabid species on an archipelago of 18 lake islands in northeastern Poland. We found strong differences in isotopic ratios between individuals of the same population as well as between different populations, indicating that carabids are opportunistic feeders and that the degree of opportunism differs between habitats and between islands. Trophic niche breadth as assessed by isotopic ratios was influenced by local habitat diversity. We suggest that opportunistic usage of different local resources results in striking differences between local populations and a very broad trophic niche observed at regional level.

Un nombre croissant de preuves suggèrent que le généralisme alimentaire (c’est-à-dire l’utilisation de ressources appartenant à plus d’un niveau trophique et/ou de ressources très variées au sein d’un même niveau trophique) est un caractère répandu chez les carabes (Coleoptera: Carabidae). Pourtant, un doute subsiste quant à savoir si le généralisme trophique s’applique à des individus à un niveau intra- ou interpopulationnel. Nous présentons ici des données concernant les isotopes stables (δ15N et δ13C) mesurés pour sept espèces communes de Carabidae européens prélevés dans un archipel de 18 îles lacustres du nord-est de la Pologne. Nous avons décelé de fortes différences de rapports isotopiques entre des individus d’une même population ainsi qu’entre individus de populations séparées, indiquant que les carabes ont des habitudes alimentaires opportunistes et que le degré d’opportunisme diffère d’un habitat à l’autre et d’une île à l’autre. La niche trophique, estimée sur base de rapports isotopiques, est influencée par la diversité locale d’habitats. Nous proposons que l’exploitation opportuniste des ressources alimentaires locales a pour conséquence des différences marquantes entre les populations locales et la très large niche trophique observée à l’échelle régionale.

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Subject editor: Patrice Bouchard

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