Predator persistence through variability of resource productivity in Tritrophic systems

Floor Helena Soudijn, Andre M. de Roos

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

54 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The trophic structure of species communities depends on the energy transfer between trophic levels. Primary productivity varies strongly through time, challenging the persistence of species at higher trophic levels. Yet resource variability has mostly been studied in systems with only one or two trophic levels. We test the effect of variability in resource productivity in a tritrophic model system including a resource, a size-structured consumer, and a size-specific predator. The model complies with fundamental principles of mass conservation and the body-size dependence of individual-level energetics and predator-prey interactions. Surprisingly, we find that resource variability may promote predator persistence. The positive effect of variability on the predator arises through periods with starvation mortality of juvenile prey, which reduces the intraspecific competition in the prey population. With increasing variability in productivity and starvation mortality in the juvenile prey, the prey availability increases in the size range preferred by the predator. The positive effect of prey mortality on the trophic transfer efficiency depends on the biologically realistic consideration of body size-dependent and food-dependent functions for growth and reproduction in our model. Our findings show that variability may promote the trophic transfer efficiency, indicating that environmental variability may sustain species at higher trophic levels in natural ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume190
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)844-853
ISSN0003-0147
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • ECOLOGY
  • EVOLUTIONARY
  • STAGE-SPECIFIC BIOMASS
  • LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS
  • FOOD WEBS
  • ECOSYSTEM STABILITY
  • VARYING ENVIRONMENT
  • POPULATION-DYNAMICS
  • SPECIES-DIVERSITY
  • PREY
  • MORTALITY
  • COMMUNITY
  • predator-prey dynamics
  • prey size structure
  • starvation mortality
  • variable productivity
  • predator persistence
  • tritrophic food chain

Cite this

Soudijn, Floor Helena ; de Roos, Andre M. / Predator persistence through variability of resource productivity in Tritrophic systems. In: American Naturalist. 2017 ; Vol. 190, No. 6. pp. 844-853.
@article{1b31b729db3a42a993e11dcecbffb326,
title = "Predator persistence through variability of resource productivity in Tritrophic systems",
abstract = "The trophic structure of species communities depends on the energy transfer between trophic levels. Primary productivity varies strongly through time, challenging the persistence of species at higher trophic levels. Yet resource variability has mostly been studied in systems with only one or two trophic levels. We test the effect of variability in resource productivity in a tritrophic model system including a resource, a size-structured consumer, and a size-specific predator. The model complies with fundamental principles of mass conservation and the body-size dependence of individual-level energetics and predator-prey interactions. Surprisingly, we find that resource variability may promote predator persistence. The positive effect of variability on the predator arises through periods with starvation mortality of juvenile prey, which reduces the intraspecific competition in the prey population. With increasing variability in productivity and starvation mortality in the juvenile prey, the prey availability increases in the size range preferred by the predator. The positive effect of prey mortality on the trophic transfer efficiency depends on the biologically realistic consideration of body size-dependent and food-dependent functions for growth and reproduction in our model. Our findings show that variability may promote the trophic transfer efficiency, indicating that environmental variability may sustain species at higher trophic levels in natural ecosystems.",
keywords = "ECOLOGY, EVOLUTIONARY, STAGE-SPECIFIC BIOMASS, LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS, FOOD WEBS, ECOSYSTEM STABILITY, VARYING ENVIRONMENT, POPULATION-DYNAMICS, SPECIES-DIVERSITY, PREY, MORTALITY, COMMUNITY, predator-prey dynamics, prey size structure, starvation mortality, variable productivity, predator persistence, tritrophic food chain",
author = "Soudijn, {Floor Helena} and {de Roos}, {Andre M.}",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1086/694119",
language = "English",
volume = "190",
pages = "844--853",
journal = "American Naturalist",
issn = "0003-0147",
publisher = "University of Chicago Press",
number = "6",

}

Predator persistence through variability of resource productivity in Tritrophic systems. / Soudijn, Floor Helena; de Roos, Andre M.

In: American Naturalist, Vol. 190, No. 6, 2017, p. 844-853.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Predator persistence through variability of resource productivity in Tritrophic systems

AU - Soudijn, Floor Helena

AU - de Roos, Andre M.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - The trophic structure of species communities depends on the energy transfer between trophic levels. Primary productivity varies strongly through time, challenging the persistence of species at higher trophic levels. Yet resource variability has mostly been studied in systems with only one or two trophic levels. We test the effect of variability in resource productivity in a tritrophic model system including a resource, a size-structured consumer, and a size-specific predator. The model complies with fundamental principles of mass conservation and the body-size dependence of individual-level energetics and predator-prey interactions. Surprisingly, we find that resource variability may promote predator persistence. The positive effect of variability on the predator arises through periods with starvation mortality of juvenile prey, which reduces the intraspecific competition in the prey population. With increasing variability in productivity and starvation mortality in the juvenile prey, the prey availability increases in the size range preferred by the predator. The positive effect of prey mortality on the trophic transfer efficiency depends on the biologically realistic consideration of body size-dependent and food-dependent functions for growth and reproduction in our model. Our findings show that variability may promote the trophic transfer efficiency, indicating that environmental variability may sustain species at higher trophic levels in natural ecosystems.

AB - The trophic structure of species communities depends on the energy transfer between trophic levels. Primary productivity varies strongly through time, challenging the persistence of species at higher trophic levels. Yet resource variability has mostly been studied in systems with only one or two trophic levels. We test the effect of variability in resource productivity in a tritrophic model system including a resource, a size-structured consumer, and a size-specific predator. The model complies with fundamental principles of mass conservation and the body-size dependence of individual-level energetics and predator-prey interactions. Surprisingly, we find that resource variability may promote predator persistence. The positive effect of variability on the predator arises through periods with starvation mortality of juvenile prey, which reduces the intraspecific competition in the prey population. With increasing variability in productivity and starvation mortality in the juvenile prey, the prey availability increases in the size range preferred by the predator. The positive effect of prey mortality on the trophic transfer efficiency depends on the biologically realistic consideration of body size-dependent and food-dependent functions for growth and reproduction in our model. Our findings show that variability may promote the trophic transfer efficiency, indicating that environmental variability may sustain species at higher trophic levels in natural ecosystems.

KW - ECOLOGY

KW - EVOLUTIONARY

KW - STAGE-SPECIFIC BIOMASS

KW - LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS

KW - FOOD WEBS

KW - ECOSYSTEM STABILITY

KW - VARYING ENVIRONMENT

KW - POPULATION-DYNAMICS

KW - SPECIES-DIVERSITY

KW - PREY

KW - MORTALITY

KW - COMMUNITY

KW - predator-prey dynamics

KW - prey size structure

KW - starvation mortality

KW - variable productivity

KW - predator persistence

KW - tritrophic food chain

U2 - 10.1086/694119

DO - 10.1086/694119

M3 - Journal article

VL - 190

SP - 844

EP - 853

JO - American Naturalist

JF - American Naturalist

SN - 0003-0147

IS - 6

ER -