27 December 2017

Veselý and colleagues, 2017

Veselý L, Boukal DS, Buřič M, Kozák P, Kouba A, Sentis A. 2017. Effects of prey density, temperature and predator diversity on nonconsumptive predator-driven mortality in a freshwater food web. Scientific Reports 7: 18075. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17998-4


Nonconsumptive predator-driven mortality (NCM), defined as prey mortality due to predation that does not result in prey consumption, is an underestimated component of predator-prey interactions with possible implications for population dynamics and ecosystem functioning. However, the biotic and abiotic factors influencing this mortality component remain largely unexplored, leaving a gap in our understanding of the impacts of environmental change on ecological communities. We investigated the effects of temperature, prey density, and predator diversity and density on NCM in an aquatic food web module composed of dragonfly larvae (Aeshna cyanea) and marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) preying on common carp (Cyprinus carpio) fry. We found that NCM increased with prey density and depended on the functional diversity and density of the predator community. Warming significantly reduced NCM only in the dragonfly larvae but the magnitude depended on dragonfly larvae density. Our results indicate that energy transfer across trophic levels is more efficient due to lower NCM in functionally diverse predator communities, at lower resource densities and at higher temperatures. This suggests that environmental changes such as climate warming and reduced resource availability could increase the efficiency of energy transfer in food webs only if functionally diverse predator communities are conserved.

Keywords: None provided.

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