Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Biology

Supervisor

Dr. M. Brock Fenton

Abstract

Detailed identification of diet is imperative for investigations of community structure, pollination and seed dispersal. Using DNA barcoding, I studied the diets of Jamaican fruitbats and how they compared. I identified dietary constituents of three morphologically distinct bat species, Artibeus jamaicensis, Ariteus flavescens and Glossophaga soricina from 135 fecal samples collected in Cockpit Country, Jamaica. DNA barcoding identified 11 fruit taxa in the fruitbats' diets, seven more taxa than detected by traditional methods. Dietary overlap among fruitbat species was significantly high (O = 0.66, p<0.05) despite distinct morphologies but A. jamaicensis and G. soricina consumed some fruit taxa exclusively. A. jamaicensis (largest) had the broadest diet. Morphology alone did not partition the bats' diets. A canonical correspondence analysis also indicated that age, sex and reproductive status influence diet. I show that DNA barcoding is a high resolution tool for diet investigations of frugivores that enables effective dietary studies.


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