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Nonconsumptive effects in a multiple predator system reduce the foraging efficiency of a keystone predator

Authors

  • Jon M. Davenport,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Biology and Center for Biodiversity, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
    • Correspondence

      Jon M. Davenport, Department of Biology and Center for Biodiversity, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, 27858. Tel: 406-243-6727; Fax: 406-243-4184;

      E-mail: jon.davenport@mso.umt.eduJon M. Davenport Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812

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  • David R. Chalcraft

    1. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana
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Abstract

Many studies have demonstrated that the nonconsumptive effect (NCE) of predators on prey traits can alter prey demographics in ways that are just as strong as the consumptive effect (CE) of predators. Less well studied, however, is how the CE and NCE of multiple predator species can interact to influence the combined effect of multiple predators on prey mortality. We examined the extent to which the NCE of one predator altered the CE of another predator on a shared prey and evaluated whether we can better predict the combined impact of multiple predators on prey when accounting for this influence. We conducted a set of experiments with larval dragonflies, adult newts (a known keystone predator), and their tadpole prey. We quantified the CE and NCE of each predator, the extent to which NCEs from one predator alters the CE of the second predator, and the combined effect of both predators on prey mortality. We then compared the combined effect of both predators on prey mortality to four predictive models. Dragonflies caused more tadpoles to hide under leaf litter (a NCE), where newts spend less time foraging, which reduced the foraging success (CE) of newts. Newts altered tadpole behavior but not in a way that altered the foraging success of dragonflies. Our study suggests that we can better predict the combined effect of multiple predators on prey when we incorporate the influence of interactions between the CE and NCE of multiple predators into a predictive model. In our case, the threat of predation to prey by one predator reduced the foraging efficiency of a keystone predator. Consequently, the ability of a predator to fill a keystone role could be compromised by the presence of other predators.

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