Jul 1, 2008

Measuring the impact of dynamic antipredator traits on predator-prey-resource interactions

Peter A Abrams


This article analyzes the limitations of the most widely used method for quantifying the impact of dynamic antipredator traits on food chain dynamics and discusses alternative approaches. The standard method for a predator-prey-resource chain estimates the effects of the prey's defensive behavior by comparing population densities or fitness measures in a "predator cue" treatment to those in a no-predator treatment. This design has been interpreted as providing a measure of the "nonconsumptive effect" of the predator on the prey and the "trait-mediated indirect effect" of the predator on the resource. Other approaches involve measurements of the impact of the behavior in the presence of functional predators. The questions addressed here are: (1) How consistent are the results of different approaches? (2) How time-dependent are their results? (3) How well do they correspond to theoretical measures of effect size? (4) How useful are the measurements in understanding system dynamics? A model of a tritrophic system in which the prey species adjusts a defensive trait adaptively is used to evaluate the experimental designs. Measures of changes in prey fitness or population density in a cue treatment generally include offsetting effect...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Predatory Behavior
PYURF gene
EAF2 gene

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