Same Diet, Different Strategies: Variability of Individual Feeding Habits across Three Populations of Ambrosi's Cave Salamander (Hydromantes ambrosii)

Enrico Lunghi, Fabio Cianferoni, Filippo Ceccolini, Yahui Zhao, Raoul Manenti, Claudia Corti, Gentile Francesco Ficetola, Giorgio Mancinelli
2020 Diversity  
European cave salamanders of the genus Hydromantes are a group of eight species endemic to Italy and south-eastern France. Knowledge on the trophic niche of European Hydromantes is poor, and the few available studies only partially investigate their feeding habits. We performed an in-depth study on the trophic niche of the Ambrosi's cave salamander (H. ambrosii), assessing the potential divergences among three different populations. All the populations had a similar diet composition, showing a
more » ... osition, showing a wider trophic niche in fall compared to spring. In only one population, "true specialists" were present; however, in all three populations, generalist individuals always represented the larger proportion. Interspecific and intraspecific competition did not play an important role in determining individual dietary specialisation in H. ambrosii; contrarily, the characteristics of the surrounding environment seemed to be an important factor. The best body conditions were observed in the population located in the site where the non-arboreal vegetation cover was the highest. Besides providing new information on the trophic niche of H. ambrosii, we here showed that studies encompassing both intrinsic and extrinsic factors at the population level are needed to fully understand the trophic dynamics occurring among European cave salamanders.
doi:10.3390/d12050180 fatcat:v22m5zr6f5fqhotszepqfcbxky