Diet and prey selection of sympatric tropical skinks

Manicom, Carryn, and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2011) Diet and prey selection of sympatric tropical skinks. Austral Ecology, 36 (5). pp. 485-496.

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Most skinks are opportunistic predators, taking available prey from the environment as it is encountered. Variation in their diet composition is thought to reflect differences in prey abundance in the environment. We studied diet composition and prey selection in a community of three sympatric skink species (genus Carlia) in northern Australia by comparing contents of skink stomachs with arthropod prey available in their habitat. Carlia were entirely carnivorous and fed on a range of arthropod prey. We found high overlap in diet and prey size among the three species and between the wet and dry seasons, but found that skinks generally focused their foraging efforts on prey types and prey sizes that were not abundant in the habitat. Spiders (Aranea), orthopterans, blattarians, isopods and termites (Isoptera) were important prey of skinks, but these arthropods were rarely trapped in the environment. Skinks also frequently consumed large-bodied prey, despite the higher relative abundance of small prey in the environment. Skinks were more selective in their foraging and diet than previously assumed. Selection of prey by consumers is a fundamental ecological process, important to consumers for maintaining energy requirements to grow and reproduce, but equally important to the community dynamics of the prey consumed.

Item ID: 14918
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1442-9993
Keywords: arthropod prey; Carlia; diet; prey selectivity; trophic web
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2010 04:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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