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Stable isotopes reveal that little brown bats have a broader dietary niche than northern long-eared bats

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Stable isotope analysis (SIA) was used to quantify intra- and interspecific variation in the δ13C and δ15N values in plagiopatagium tissue of little brown (Myotis lucifugus) and northern long-eared (M. septentrionalis) bats in several regions of the Canadian Maritimes where they occur in sympatry. There was large intraspecific variation in the δ13C of M. lucifugus, with the range exceeding 30‰, whereas the range of δ13C values observed in M. septentrionalis was less than 7‰. Similarly, the standard ellipse area of M. lucifugus was larger than that of M. septentrionalis at all sites and together, these data support the contention that M. lucifugus has broader dietary niche breadth than M. septentrionalis. Some M. lucifugus from Fundy National Park, New Brunswick exhibited very low δ13C values, suggesting an energy input from an unknown source, possibly with carbon assimilated from biogenic methane. High δ13C values for M. lucifugus from Brier Island, Nova Scotia are consistent with a diet that is at least partially derived from marine sources. Finally, δ15N values for both species from Prince Edward Island were high relative to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, suggesting inputs of anthropogenically-derived nitrogen from a more agriculturally-intensive landscape.
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  • Department of Biology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, B3H 3C3, Canada
  • Department of Biology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, B3H 3C3, Canada
  • Department of Biology, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS, B3M 2J6, Canada
  • Department of Biology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, B3H 3C3, Canada
  • Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5A3, Canada
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