Volume 13 Issue 1
Mar.  2022
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Xianglong Xu, Jiahu Jiang, Yu Lei, Chao Wang, Baoping Qing, Changqing Ding. 2022: Using stable isotope to compare the habitat use and trophic level between the new and old breeding range of wild Crested Ibis in the early breeding season. Avian Research, 13(1): 100007. doi: 10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100007
Citation: Xianglong Xu, Jiahu Jiang, Yu Lei, Chao Wang, Baoping Qing, Changqing Ding. 2022: Using stable isotope to compare the habitat use and trophic level between the new and old breeding range of wild Crested Ibis in the early breeding season. Avian Research, 13(1): 100007. doi: 10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100007

Using stable isotope to compare the habitat use and trophic level between the new and old breeding range of wild Crested Ibis in the early breeding season

doi: 10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100007
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  • Corresponding author: E-mail address: cqding@bjfu.edu.cn (C. Ding)
  • Received Date: 27 Jan 2022
  • Accepted Date: 16 Feb 2022
  • Rev Recd Date: 12 Feb 2022
  • Available Online: 07 Jul 2022
  • Publish Date: 25 Feb 2022
  • The concept of foraging niche provides an insight into habitat use and dietary information of animals. Knowing intraspecific variation in foraging niche and trophic level is critical to the understanding of the species response to environmental changes during the process of range expansion, as well as the habitat management for conservation of threatened species. Using stable isotopic values of eggshell membranes (δ13C and δ15N), we examined whether there are differences in habitat use, trophic level, foraging niche width between the new and old breeding habitats (plains vs. mountains) of wild Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) in the early breeding season. Crested Ibis exhibited high variability in both δ13C and δ15N values, δ13C and δ15N varied as a function of habitat types. Birds breeding in plains had significantly higher δ13C but lower δ15N values compared to the birds breeding in mountains. Higher δ15N suggested that individuals in mountains consumed a great proportion of higher trophic level prey species in the early breeding season. Moreover, the isotopic niches were distinctly different in positions and showed small overlap between the two habitat types. The niche width was wider in old habitat than in the expanded new habitat. Our results demonstrated that the wild Crested Ibis had a high intraspecific variation in habitat uses and trophic levels in the early breeding season, and they could be divided into mountain and plain groups based on their different foraging niches. The difference in δ15N and niche width revealed that high trophic level food resources might be insufficient in plains. These findings stressed the importance of protecting foraging grounds in mountains and the necessity of improving foraging grounds in plains during winter and spring. Our study highlights the feasibility of investigating intraspecific variation in foraging ecology of birds through non-invasive isotopes of eggshell membranes. Understanding foraging niche variation gives us an insight into the food resource diversity in local areas and provides important information regarding particular foraging habitats that require protection.


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