May 27, 2015

The sign of cascading predator effects varies with prey traits in a detrital system

The Journal of Animal Ecology
Xinwei WuShucun Sun


Theory and experiments show that the nature of 'green' trophic cascades, between predators, herbivores and plants, varies with several key species traits: predator hunting mode and predator and prey habitat domains. Meanwhile, 'brown' cascades between predators, environment-modifying detritivores and plants have been largely overlooked and the roles of species traits, particularly prey traits, in determining the nature of these cascades remains unclear. We hypothesize that, in predator-detritivore-plant interaction chains, the burrowing ability of plant-facilitating detritivores determines their response to predators and thus the sign of indirect effect transmitted. In the dung-decomposer food web of an alpine meadow, we predicted that in the presence of above-ground predacious beetles: (i) non-burrowing detritivores will suffer mortality due to predation and transmit negative indirect effects to plants, whereas (ii) burrowing detritivores will escape predation by retreating deeper into the soil, transmitting positive indirect effects to plants. In support of predictions, experiments showed that a single species of predacious beetle (i) reduced the density of the non-burrowing species and indirectly reduced dung loss rate, soil...Continue Reading

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Brown Tendon Sheath Syndrome
Order Coleoptera
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