Safety in numbers: extinction arising from predator-driven Allee effects


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A.M. Kramer & J.M. Drake (2010) Experimental demonstration of population extinction due to a predator-driven Allee effect. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79, 633–639.

Experimental evidence of extinction via an Allee effect (AE) is a priority as more species become threatened by human activity. Kramer & Drake (2010) begin the International Year of Biodiversity with the important – but double-edged – demonstration that predators can induce an AE in their prey. The good news is that their experiments help bridge the knowledge gap between theoretical and empirical AEs. The bad news is that this predator-driven AE precipitates the prey extinction via a demographic AE. Although their findings will be sensitive to departures from their experimental protocol, this link between predation and population extinction could have important consequences for many prey species.