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Bats eat birds – join the discussion

As the month of September is coming to a close, and the topic of the month in PLoS ONE is bats, we decided to end the focus with a Journal Club.

Starting today, and lasting a week, there will be a Journal Club on this PLoS ONE article – Bats’ Conquest of a Formidable Foraging Niche: The Myriads of Nocturnally Migrating Songbirds by Ana G. Popa-Lisseanu, Antonio Delgado-Huertas, Manuela G. Forero, Alicia Rodriguez, Raphael Arlettaz and Carlos Ibanez:

Along food chains, i.e., at different trophic levels, the most abundant taxa often represent exceptional food reservoirs, and are hence the main target of consumers and predators. The capacity of an individual consumer to opportunistically switch towards an abundant food source, for instance, a prey that suddenly becomes available in its environment, may offer such strong selective advantages that ecological innovations may appear and spread rapidly. New predator-prey relationships are likely to evolve even faster when a diet switch involves the exploitation of an unsaturated resource for which few or no other species compete. Using stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen as dietary tracers, we provide here strong support to the controversial hypothesis that the giant noctule bat Nyctalus lasiopterus feeds on the wing upon the multitude of flying passerines during their nocturnal migratory journeys, a resource which, while showing a predictable distribution in space and time, is only seasonally available. So far, no predator had been reported to exploit this extraordinarily diverse and abundant food reservoir represented by nocturnally migrating passerines.

Folks in the The Kalcounis-Ruppell lab, Hershey lab and O’Brien lab in the Department of Biology at UNC Greensboro, have read and discussed the paper and posted their comments here.

You know what to do – go there, register/login and join the conversation.