Sources of variation in small rodent trophic niche: New insights from DNA metabarcoding and stable isotope analysis

Eeva M. Soininen, Dorothée Ehrich, Nicolas Lecomte, Nigel G. Yoccoz, Arnaud Tarroux, Dominique Berteaux, Gilles Gauthier, Ludovic Gielly, Christian Brochmann, Galina Gussarova, Rolf A. Ims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Intraspecific competition for food is expected to increase the trophic niche width of consumers, defined here as their diet diversity, but this process has been little studied in herbivores. Population densities of small rodents fluctuate greatly, providing a good study model to evaluate effects of competition on trophic niche. We studied resource use in five arctic small rodent populations of four species combining DNA metabarcoding of stomach contents and stable isotope analysis (SIA). Our results suggest that for small rodents, the most pronounced effect of competition on trophic niche is due to increased use of secondary habitats and to habitat-specific diets, rather than an expansion of trophic niche in primary habitat. DNA metabarcoding and SIA provided complementary information about the composition and temporal variation of herbivore diets. Combing these two approaches requires caution, as the underlying processes causing observed patterns may differ between methodologies due to different spatiotemporal scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-381
Number of pages21
JournalIsotopes in Environmental and Health Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Inorganic Chemistry


  • animals
  • carbon-13
  • competition
  • diet diversity
  • DNA metabarcoding
  • habitat use
  • herbivore
  • isotope ecology
  • nitrogen-15
  • trophic niche width
  • tundra food web

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