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Habitat heterogeneity and mammalian predator–prey interactions



  • 1In predator–prey theory, habitat heterogeneity can affect the relationship between kill rates and prey or predator density through its effect on the predator's ability to search for, encounter, kill and consume its prey. Many studies of predator–prey interactions include the effect of spatial heterogeneity, but these are mostly based on species with restricted mobility or conducted in experimental settings.
  • 2Here, we aim to identify the patterns through which spatial heterogeneity affects predator–prey dynamics and to review the literature on the effect of spatial heterogeneity on predator–prey interactions in terrestrial mammalian systems, i.e. in freely moving species with high mobility, in non-experimental settings. We also review current methodologies that allow the study of the predation process within a spatial context.
  • 3When the functional response includes the effect of spatial heterogeneity, it usually takes the form of predator-dependent or ratio-dependent models and has wide applicability.
  • 4The analysis of the predation process through its different stages may further contribute towards identifying the spatial scale of interest and the specific spatial mechanism affecting predator–prey interactions.
  • 5Analyzing the predation process based on the functional response theory, but separating the stages of predation and applying a multiscale approach, is likely to increase our insight into how spatial heterogeneity affects predator–prey dynamics. This may increase our ability to forecast the consequences of landscape transformations on predator–prey dynamics.