DOI: 10.1101/455360Oct 29, 2018Paper

Trophic consistency of supraspecific taxa in belowground invertebrate communities

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Anton M PotapovAlexei V Tiunov


Animals that have similar morphological traits are expected to share similar ecological niches. This statement applies to individual animals within a species and thus species often serve as the functional units in ecological studies. Species are further grouped into higher-ranked taxonomic units based on their morphological similarity and thus are also expected to be ecologically similar. On the other hand, theory predicts that strong competition between closely related species can lead to differentiation of ecological niches. Due to a high diversity and limited taxonomic expertise, soil food webs are often resolved using supraspecific taxa such as families, orders or even classes as functional units. Here we for the first time empirically tested the trophic consistency of supraspecific taxa across major lineages of temperate forest soil invertebrates: Annelida, Chelicerata, Myriapoda, Crustacea and Hexapoda. Published data on stable isotope compositions of carbon and nitrogen were used to infer basal resources and trophic level, and explore the relationship between taxonomic and trophic dissimilarity of local populations. Genera and families had normal and unimodal distributions of isotope niches, suggesting that supraspecific...Continue Reading

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