Why ratio dependence is (still) a bad model of predation

Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Peter A Abrams

Abstract

The history of the idea that predation rates are functions of the ratio of prey density to predator density, known as ratio dependence, is reviewed and updated. When the term was introduced in 1989, it was already known that higher predator abundance often reduced an individual predator's average intake rate of prey. However, the idea that this effect was a universally applicable inverse proportionality was new. That idea was widely criticized in many articles in the early 1990s, and many of these criticisms have never been addressed. Nevertheless, ratio dependence seems to be gaining in popularity and is the subject of a recent monograph by the originators. This article revisits the most important objections to this theory, and assesses to what extent they have been answered by the theory's proponents. In this process, several new objections are raised. The counterarguments begin with the lack of a plausible, generally applicable mechanism that could produce ratio dependence. They include the fact that ratio dependence is a special case of predator-density effects, which, in turn, are only one of many non-prey species effects that influence the consumption rate of a particular prey. The proclaimed simplicity advantage of ratio...Continue Reading

References

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Jun 1, 1990·Oecologia·R Arditi, H R Akçakaya

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Citations

May 10, 2017·Ecology Letters·Mark NovakIsaac D Shepard
Sep 7, 2018·Journal of the Royal Society, Interface·Sylvain BilliardJ-R Chazottes
Jan 1, 2021·Ecology Letters·Mark Novak, Daniel B Stouffer

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