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

Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Peter A Abrams


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


Jun 1, 1978·Theoretical Population Biology·T W Schoener
Dec 1, 1976·Theoretical Population Biology·T W Schoener
Dec 1, 1975·Theoretical Population Biology·P Abrams
Dec 1, 1974·Theoretical Population Biology·T W Schoener
Aug 28, 1981·Science·A G Fredrickson, G Stephanopoulos
Dec 1, 1996·Theoretical Population Biology·W G Wilson
Oct 22, 1998·Theoretical Population Biology· de Roos AMW G Wilson
Mar 25, 1999·Journal of Theoretical Biology·V KaitalaM Heino
Aug 10, 1999·Theoretical Population Biology·C CosnerD B Olson
Dec 23, 1999·Theoretical Population Biology·P A Abrams, T J Kawecki
Jul 8, 2000·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·P A Abrams, L R Ginzburg
Nov 18, 2000·Science·G F FussmannN G Hairston
Feb 13, 2001·Theoretical Population Biology·K M Cuddington, P Yodzis
Oct 30, 2001·Journal of Mathematical Biology·F BerezovskayaR Arditi
Jul 18, 2003·Nature·Peter Turchin
Jul 18, 2003·Nature·Takehito YoshidaNelson G Hairston
Nov 1, 2003·Science·Olivier GilgBenoît Sittler
Jul 26, 2005·Theoretical Population Biology·Peter A Abrams, Christopher Quince
Jul 3, 2007·Ecology·Christopher X J JensenLev R Ginzburg
Aug 14, 2008·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Akihiko Mougi, Kinya Nishimura
Aug 19, 2008·The American Naturalist·Peter A Abrams
Aug 19, 2008·The American Naturalist·Kim Cuddington, Peter Yodzis
Nov 27, 2008·Oecologia·Pavel KratinaBradley R Anholt
Jan 8, 2011·BMC Ecology·John P Delong, David A Vasseur
May 13, 2011·The Journal of Animal Ecology·Antonio J Golubski, Peter A Abrams
Dec 14, 2011·Journal of Mathematical Biology·Stefan A H Geritz, Eva Kisdi
Sep 13, 2012·Journal of Theoretical Biology·Stefan Geritz, Mats Gyllenberg
Jan 8, 2013·Journal of Theoretical Biology·Vlastimil Křivan
May 8, 2013·Journal of Theoretical Biology·Robert D Holt, Michael Barfield
Jul 6, 2013·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·Matthew R EvansTim G Benton
Oct 30, 2013·Ecology Letters·Michael R HeathJohn H Steele
Sep 1, 1997·Oecologia·John D Reeve
Sep 1, 1987·Oecologia·P A Abrams
Jun 1, 1990·Oecologia·R Arditi, H R Akçakaya

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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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