Merging Resource Availability with Isotope Mixing Models: The Role of Neutral Interaction Assumptions


Bayesian mixing models have allowed for the inclusion of uncertainty and prior information in the analysis of trophic interactions using stable isotopes. Formulating prior distributions is relatively straightforward when incorporating dietary data. However, the use of data that are related, but not directly proportional, to diet (such as prey availability data) is often problematic because such information is not necessarily predictive of diet, and the information required to build a reliable prior distribution for all prey species is often unavailable. Omitting prey availability data impacts the estimation of a predator’s diet and introduces the strong assumption of consumer ultrageneralism (where all prey are consumed in equal proportions), particularly when multiple prey have similar isotope values.

Mark Novak
Mark Novak
Associate Professor