The three-dimensional macronutrient niche of an invasive generalist predator.
Harvestmen are predators, although they suspected of being partly omnivorous by including fruits in their diet. In the present study, the right-angled mixture triangle (RMT) was used to analyse the macronutritional niche of the harvestman Opilio canestrinii, an invasive species in northern Europe. The study design followed a double-test procedure in which the animals were subjected to two self-selection tests: the first one immediately after being caught in the field and the second after 1 week of ad libitum feeding during which the animals became satiated and nutritionally balanced. A comparison of results from the two tests indicates whether the animals were food limited in the field, and whether they were limited by a particular macronutrient. Females were found to be food limited in the field, whereas males were not. Opilio canestrinii had a target intake of 28% lipid : 52% protein : 20% carbohydrate [i.e. with a considerable proportion of carbohydrate (sugar) in the diet]. Both sexes were non-protein limited in the field, with sugar being more limiting than lipid. The results indicate considerable inclusion of plant-derived sugar in the natural diet. This conclusion was supported by a separate experiment showing enhanced performance (survival, gain in mass) in animals whose only energy supply was fresh fruit. It is concluded that the harvestman is best characterized as an omnivorous predator.