A trait-based framework for understanding predator–prey relationships: Trait matching between a specialist snake and its insect prey

Edvárd Mizsei, Zoltán Boros, Ádám Lovas-Kiss, Csaba Szepesváry, Márton Szabolcs, Gergő Rák, János Ujszegi, Zoltán Gál, Szabolcs Lengyel, Gellért Puskás

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

High-quality information on predator–prey relationships is fundamental in understanding food webs, community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Recent analytical advances have made it possible to develop new trait-based approaches to study trophic relationships and evaluate trait matching between predators and prey. Here, we develop a novel analytical approach based on generalized linear mixed-effects models (GLMM) to test the importance of prey availability and to identify the set of prey traits that best explain the occurrence and number of prey in the predator's diet. We demonstrate that the approach by using an extensive dataset on prey availability, prey traits and gut content collected in all known populations of Vipera graeca, a little-known, endangered snake of alpine grasslands in the Pindos Mountains of the Balkan Peninsula. We show that V. graeca is a unique, venomous snake specialized on bush-crickets and grasshoppers (Orthoptera). Prey selection GLMMs showed that the ideal prey of V. graeca is abundant, large-bodied, has poor escape abilities (flightless, slow-moving and bad jumper) and prefers loose grasslands (as opposed to bare ground/rock or closed sward). Vipers restrict their feeding to periods of high Orthoptera abundance in the late summer and need to reach a certain body size to become able to catch large-sized prey. Our analytical approach provides a framework for trait matching between predators and prey and unprecedented fine-scale information on the importance of prey traits in prey selection by a specialist predator. The narrow trophic niche of V. graeca likely increases the vulnerability of this cold-adapted snake to extinction. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFunctional Ecology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

snake
snakes
predator
insect
predators
prey selection
insects
prey availability
Orthoptera
grasslands
grassland
Vipera
Tettigoniidae
Viperidae
sward
cricket
grasshopper
Balkans
grasshoppers
trophic relationships

Keywords

  • entomophagy
  • feeding ecology
  • grassland
  • insectivory
  • trait data
  • trophic network
  • Vipera ursinii
  • Viperidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

A trait-based framework for understanding predator–prey relationships : Trait matching between a specialist snake and its insect prey. / Mizsei, Edvárd; Boros, Zoltán; Lovas-Kiss, Ádám; Szepesváry, Csaba; Szabolcs, Márton; Rák, Gergő; Ujszegi, János; Gál, Zoltán; Lengyel, Szabolcs; Puskás, Gellért.

In: Functional Ecology, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mizsei, Edvárd ; Boros, Zoltán ; Lovas-Kiss, Ádám ; Szepesváry, Csaba ; Szabolcs, Márton ; Rák, Gergő ; Ujszegi, János ; Gál, Zoltán ; Lengyel, Szabolcs ; Puskás, Gellért. / A trait-based framework for understanding predator–prey relationships : Trait matching between a specialist snake and its insect prey. In: Functional Ecology. 2019.
@article{07cf521c6a93490e827bbb521b6a29f0,
title = "A trait-based framework for understanding predator–prey relationships: Trait matching between a specialist snake and its insect prey",
abstract = "High-quality information on predator–prey relationships is fundamental in understanding food webs, community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Recent analytical advances have made it possible to develop new trait-based approaches to study trophic relationships and evaluate trait matching between predators and prey. Here, we develop a novel analytical approach based on generalized linear mixed-effects models (GLMM) to test the importance of prey availability and to identify the set of prey traits that best explain the occurrence and number of prey in the predator's diet. We demonstrate that the approach by using an extensive dataset on prey availability, prey traits and gut content collected in all known populations of Vipera graeca, a little-known, endangered snake of alpine grasslands in the Pindos Mountains of the Balkan Peninsula. We show that V. graeca is a unique, venomous snake specialized on bush-crickets and grasshoppers (Orthoptera). Prey selection GLMMs showed that the ideal prey of V. graeca is abundant, large-bodied, has poor escape abilities (flightless, slow-moving and bad jumper) and prefers loose grasslands (as opposed to bare ground/rock or closed sward). Vipers restrict their feeding to periods of high Orthoptera abundance in the late summer and need to reach a certain body size to become able to catch large-sized prey. Our analytical approach provides a framework for trait matching between predators and prey and unprecedented fine-scale information on the importance of prey traits in prey selection by a specialist predator. The narrow trophic niche of V. graeca likely increases the vulnerability of this cold-adapted snake to extinction. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.",
keywords = "entomophagy, feeding ecology, grassland, insectivory, trait data, trophic network, Vipera ursinii, Viperidae",
author = "Edv{\'a}rd Mizsei and Zolt{\'a}n Boros and {\'A}d{\'a}m Lovas-Kiss and Csaba Szepesv{\'a}ry and M{\'a}rton Szabolcs and Gergő R{\'a}k and J{\'a}nos Ujszegi and Zolt{\'a}n G{\'a}l and Szabolcs Lengyel and Gell{\'e}rt Pusk{\'a}s",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/1365-2435.13446",
language = "English",
journal = "Functional Ecology",
issn = "0269-8463",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A trait-based framework for understanding predator–prey relationships

T2 - Trait matching between a specialist snake and its insect prey

AU - Mizsei, Edvárd

AU - Boros, Zoltán

AU - Lovas-Kiss, Ádám

AU - Szepesváry, Csaba

AU - Szabolcs, Márton

AU - Rák, Gergő

AU - Ujszegi, János

AU - Gál, Zoltán

AU - Lengyel, Szabolcs

AU - Puskás, Gellért

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - High-quality information on predator–prey relationships is fundamental in understanding food webs, community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Recent analytical advances have made it possible to develop new trait-based approaches to study trophic relationships and evaluate trait matching between predators and prey. Here, we develop a novel analytical approach based on generalized linear mixed-effects models (GLMM) to test the importance of prey availability and to identify the set of prey traits that best explain the occurrence and number of prey in the predator's diet. We demonstrate that the approach by using an extensive dataset on prey availability, prey traits and gut content collected in all known populations of Vipera graeca, a little-known, endangered snake of alpine grasslands in the Pindos Mountains of the Balkan Peninsula. We show that V. graeca is a unique, venomous snake specialized on bush-crickets and grasshoppers (Orthoptera). Prey selection GLMMs showed that the ideal prey of V. graeca is abundant, large-bodied, has poor escape abilities (flightless, slow-moving and bad jumper) and prefers loose grasslands (as opposed to bare ground/rock or closed sward). Vipers restrict their feeding to periods of high Orthoptera abundance in the late summer and need to reach a certain body size to become able to catch large-sized prey. Our analytical approach provides a framework for trait matching between predators and prey and unprecedented fine-scale information on the importance of prey traits in prey selection by a specialist predator. The narrow trophic niche of V. graeca likely increases the vulnerability of this cold-adapted snake to extinction. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

AB - High-quality information on predator–prey relationships is fundamental in understanding food webs, community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Recent analytical advances have made it possible to develop new trait-based approaches to study trophic relationships and evaluate trait matching between predators and prey. Here, we develop a novel analytical approach based on generalized linear mixed-effects models (GLMM) to test the importance of prey availability and to identify the set of prey traits that best explain the occurrence and number of prey in the predator's diet. We demonstrate that the approach by using an extensive dataset on prey availability, prey traits and gut content collected in all known populations of Vipera graeca, a little-known, endangered snake of alpine grasslands in the Pindos Mountains of the Balkan Peninsula. We show that V. graeca is a unique, venomous snake specialized on bush-crickets and grasshoppers (Orthoptera). Prey selection GLMMs showed that the ideal prey of V. graeca is abundant, large-bodied, has poor escape abilities (flightless, slow-moving and bad jumper) and prefers loose grasslands (as opposed to bare ground/rock or closed sward). Vipers restrict their feeding to periods of high Orthoptera abundance in the late summer and need to reach a certain body size to become able to catch large-sized prey. Our analytical approach provides a framework for trait matching between predators and prey and unprecedented fine-scale information on the importance of prey traits in prey selection by a specialist predator. The narrow trophic niche of V. graeca likely increases the vulnerability of this cold-adapted snake to extinction. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

KW - entomophagy

KW - feeding ecology

KW - grassland

KW - insectivory

KW - trait data

KW - trophic network

KW - Vipera ursinii

KW - Viperidae

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85073958748&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85073958748&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/1365-2435.13446

DO - 10.1111/1365-2435.13446

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85073958748

JO - Functional Ecology

JF - Functional Ecology

SN - 0269-8463

ER -