Size, sex and individual-level behaviour drive intrapopulation variation in cross-ecosystem foraging of a top-predator

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Abstract

Mobile top and apex predators can provide functional linkages between ecosystems and couple the ecological processes of spatially disparate communities. Thus, understanding what factors influence the degree to which individuals in a population exhibit cross-ecosystem foraging behaviors that provide these linkages is essential. The authors found a high degree of variation in cross-ecosystem foraging by the American alligator, driven by differences between size classes, sexes, and individuals. Given these findings it will be important to include population substructure when investigating the implications of mobile predator driven connectivity for ecosystems.

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