Is food resource partitioning responsible for deviation of echolocation call frequencies from allometry in Rhinolophus macrotis?
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- Shi, L., Feng, J., Liu, Y. et al. Acta Theriol (2009) 54: 371. doi:10.4098/j.at.0001-7051.099.2008
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There is an apparent allometric relationship between peak frequency of echolocation and body size in rhinophilids. However, some rhinolophids deviate from this rule. To date this variation has been explained as a result of partitioning of communication channels. An alternative hypothesis that food resource partitioning results in this divergence in expected frequencies was tested by comparing prey selection between Rhinolophus macrotis Blyth, 1844 and Rhinolophus lepidus Blyth, 1844 in Yunnan Province, China. These two sympatric species are morphologically similar but acoustically divergent: R. macrotis has an echolocation frequency significantly lower than that predicted by the allometric relationship, whereas that of R. lepidus agreed with expectations. Prey selection experiments, conducted in a flight tent, indicated that the dominant prey taxa of R. macrotis were Lasiocampidae, Arctiidae and Noctuidae, whilst that of R. lepidus were Arctiidae, Noctuidae and Ichneumonidae. R. macrotis ate more earless moths and fewer eared moths than R. lepidus, and R. macrotis fed on larger prey in general and captured a wider size range than that captured by R. lepidus. These results confirmed the existence of finely tuned trophic niche differentiation and suggested that food resource partitioning is one of the factors leading to lower peak frequency of calls in R. macrotis.