Highly overlapping winter diet in two sympatric lemming species revealed by DNA metabarcoding

E.M. Soininen, G. Gauthier, F. Bilodeau, D. Berteaux, L. Gielly, P. Taberlet, G. Gussarova, E. Bellemain, K. Hassel, H.K. Sten ien, L. Epp, A. Schr der-Nielsen, C. Brochmann, N.G. Yoccoz

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© 2015 Soininen et al.Sympatric species are expected to minimize competition by partitioning resources, especially when these are limited. Herbivores inhabiting the High Arctic in winter are a prime example of a situation where food availability is anticipated to be low, and thus reduced diet overlap is expected. We present here the first assessment of diet overlap of high arctic lemmings during winter based on DNA metabarcoding of feces. In contrast to previous analyses based on microhistology, we found that the diets of both collared (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) and brown lemmings (Lemmus trimucronatus) on Bylot Island were dominated by Salix while mosses, which were significantly consumed only by the brown lemming, were a relatively minor food item. The most abundant plant taxon, Cassiope tetragona, which alone composes more than 50% of the available plant biomass, was not detected in feces and can thus be considered to be non-food. Most plant taxa that were identified as food items were consumed in proport
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)None
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

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