Trophic Niche Breadth of Falconidae Species Predicts Biomic Specialisation but Not Range Size

Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Trophic niche breadth plays a key role in biogeographic distribution patterns. Theory posits that generalist strategies are favoured in a more heterogeneous set of environments across a spatio-temporal gradient of resources predictability, conferring individuals and species a greater capacity for colonising new habitats and thus expanding their distribution area. Using the family Falconidae (Aves, Falconiformes) as a model study, we tested the prediction that those species with a wider diet spectrum will have larger geographic range sizes and inhabit more biomes. We assessed the relationships between trophic breadth (diet richness and diversity) at different taxonomic resolutions of the prey (class and order), range size and biomic specialisation index (BSI; number of biomes inhabited) for the different species. Despite different diet breadth indexes and taxonomic resolutions defined differently the trophic niche of the clade and species, our findings revealed that trophic breadth was not a good predictor for range size but was for total environmental heterogeneity, with more diet-generalist species occupying a higher number of biomes. Diet breadth at the order taxonomic level showed a higher capacity of predicting BSI than at class level, and can be an important ecological trait explaining biogeographic patterns of the species.