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Oldrich Kopecky (2016)

Changes in prey importance and prey niche overlap of sexes during the alpine newt breeding season


Urodeles, including European newts, are usually sexually dimorphic predators. Among newts, the alpine newt has the most pronounced sexual size dimorphism (in favour of females). Gender is a factor that is often associated with intra-specific diet differences. Despite the significant number of dietary studies on the alpine newt, some topics such as the breadth of the trophic niche and its overlap between sexes, or inter-sexual differences in qualitative and quantitative composition of prey remain unresolved. The present study dealing with these questions was conducted at two localities (ponds at an elevation of about 450 m) in the Czech Republic. Newts were captured from the banks during the entire breeding season using a dip net, and the stomach contents were extracted using a stomach flushing technique. Altogether 190 individuals were sampled, and a total of 1,417 prey items were obtained. The available food sources differed over the course of the breeding season, as newts changed the taxa they preyed on. This reflects the ability of newts to switch between several hunting strategies. The overall food niche overlap between the sexes was relatively large (C = 0.761, resp. C = 0.797). Inter-sexual differences were detected at both localities, mainly in the number of prey items consumed from the most important prey categories such as Rana eggs or Isopoda, which were consumed in higher numbers by females. The findings of this study suggest that females are more sensitive to the trade-off between energy intake and expenditure during the breeding season.

Amphibia; Caudata; food; foraging; diet
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology