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Class Project Inspires Research Article in Ecology

Published: April 9, 2013.
By Virginia Institute of Marine Science


A study that began as a class project among graduate students at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science is now a peer–reviewed research article in Ecology , the flagship journal of the Ecological Society of America.

The article, "Physiological effects of diet mixing on consumer fitness: a meta-analysis," is co-authored by VIMS graduate students Jonathan Lefcheck, Matt Whalen, Theresa Davenport, and Josh Stone, along with VIMS Professor J.

Duffy teaches the Evolutionary Ecology course that inspired the students to pursue their research question: whether it's better for an animal to have a diverse diet or instead stick to a single favorite prey item. "

The results of their study show that on average, animals do better on mixed diets than on the average of single-species diets, but not as well as when they eat the best single prey species.

"The evidence for the nutritional benefits of diet mixing is pretty weak," says Lefcheck.

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