Apr 18, 2020

Evolution of predator foraging in response to prey infection favors species coexistence

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Loïc ProsnierN. Loeuille


As acknowledged by Optimal Foraging theories, predator diets depend on prey profitability. Parasites, ubiquitous in food webs, are known to affect simultaneously host vulnerability to predation and host energy contents, thereby affecting profitabilities. In this work, we study the eco-evolutionary consequences of prey infection on predator diet. We also analyze the consequences for coexistence between prey, predators and parasites. We model a trophic module with one predator and two prey species, one of these prey being infected by a parasite, and distinguish between two effects of infection: a decrease in host fecundity (virulence effect) and an increase in vulnerability to predation (interaction effect). Predator foraging may evolve toward specialist or generalist strategies, the latter being less efficient on a given resource. We show that the virulence effect leads to specialisation on the non-infected prey while the interaction effect, by increasing prey profitability, favors specialisation on the infected prey. Combining the two effects at intermediate intensities promotes either generalist predators or the diversification of foraging strategies (coexistence of specialists), depending of trade-off shape. We then investiga...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Calcinus elegans
Cyartonema elegans
Coleonyx elegans
Oculodigitoesophagoduodenal Syndrome
Cestrum elegans
Clarkia unguiculata

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