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Searching for the true diet of marine predators: incorporating Bayesian priors into stable isotope mixing models


Chiaradia, A and Forero, MG and McInnes, JC and Ramirez, F, Searching for the true diet of marine predators: incorporating Bayesian priors into stable isotope mixing models, PLoS ONE, 9, (3) Article e92665. ISSN 1932-6203 (2014) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Chiaradia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092665


Reconstructing the diet of top marine predators is of great significance in several key areas of applied ecology, requiring accurate estimation of their true diet. However, from conventional stomach content analysis to recent stable isotope and DNA analyses, no one method is bias or error free. Here, we evaluated the accuracy of recent methods to estimate the actual proportion of a controlled diet fed to a top-predator seabird, the Little penguin (Eudyptula minor). We combined published DNA data of penguins scats with blood plasma δ15N and δ13C values to reconstruct the diet of individual penguins fed experimentally. Mismatch between controlled (true) ingested diet and dietary estimates obtained through the separately use of stable isotope and DNA data suggested some degree of differences in prey assimilation (stable isotope) and digestion rates (DNA analysis). In contrast, combined posterior isotope mixing model with DNA Bayesian priors provided the closest match to the true diet. We provided the first evidence suggesting that the combined use of these complementary techniques may provide better estimates of the actual diet of top marine predators- a powerful tool in applied ecology in the search for the true consumed diet.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:stable isotope, diet, little penguin, mixed-models
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:McInnes, JC (Dr Julie McInnes)
ID Code:148757
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:41
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-02-07
Last Modified:2022-03-11
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

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