The interaction between predation and competition: a review and synthesis


  • Editor, M. Loreau

Jonathan M. Chase E-mail:


This review discusses the interface between two of the most important types of interactions between species, interspecific competition and predation. Predation has been claimed to increase, decrease, or have little effect on, the strength, impact or importance of interspecific competition. There is confusion about both the meaning of these terms and the likelihood of, and conditions required for, each of these outcomes. In this article we distinguish among three measures of the influence of predation on competitive outcomes: short-term per capita consumption or growth rates, long-term changes in density, and the probability of competitive coexistence. We then outline various theoretical mechanisms that can lead to qualitatively distinct effects of predators. The qualitative effect of predators can depend both on the mechanism of competition and on the definition of competitive strength/impact. In assessing the empirical literature, we ask: (1) What definitions of competitive strength/impact have been assumed? (2) Does strong evidence exist to support one or more of the possible mechanisms that can produce a given outcome? (3) Do biases in the choice of organism or manipulation exist, and are they likely to have influenced the conclusions reached? We conclude by discussing several unanswered questions, and espouse a stronger interchange between empirical and theoretical approaches to this important question.