The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "What is a mammalian omnivore? Insights into terrestrial mammalian diet diversity, body mass and evolution"

Posted on 2023-01-30 - 07:24
Mammalian omnivores are a broad group of species that are often treated uniformly in ecological studies. Here, we incorporate omnivorous dietary differences to investigate previously found mammalian macroevolutionary and macroecological trends. We investigate the frequency with which vertebrate prey, invertebrate prey, fibrous plant material and non-fibrous plant material, co-occur in the diets of terrestrial mammals. We quantify the body size distributions and phylogenetic signal of different omnivorous diets and use multistate reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo to assess the transition rates between diets on the mammalian phylogenetic tree. We find omnivores that consume all four food types are relatively rare, as most omnivores consume only invertebrate prey and non-fibrous plants. In addition, omnivores that only consume invertebrate prey, many of which are from Rodentia, are on average smaller than omnivores that incorporate vertebrate prey. Our transition models have high rates from invertivorous omnivory to herbivory, and from vertivory to prey mixing and ultimately invertivory. We suggest prey type is an important aspect of omnivore macroevolution and macroecology, as it is correlated with body mass, evolutionary history and diet-related evolutionary transition rates. Future work should avoid lumping omnivores into one category given the ecological variety of omnivore diets and their strong evolutionary influence.


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