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Timing and abundance as key mechanisms affecting trophic interactions in variable environments

Authors

  • Joël M. Durant,

    1. Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo, PO Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Dag Ø. Hjermann,

    1. Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo, PO Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Tycho Anker-Nilssen,

    1. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway
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  • Grégory Beaugrand,

    1. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UMR 8013 ELICO, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille 1, Station Marine, 28 Avenue Foch, BP 80, F-62930 Wimereux, France
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  • Atle Mysterud,

    1. Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo, PO Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Nathalie Pettorelli,

    1. Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo, PO Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Nils Chr. Stenseth

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo, PO Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
    2. Flødevigen Marine Research Station, Institute of Marine Research, NO-4817 His, Norway
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* E-mail: n.c.stenseth@bio.uio.no

Abstract

Climatic changes are disrupting otherwise tight trophic interactions between predator and prey. Most of the earlier studies have primarily focused on the temporal dimension of the relationship in the framework of the match–mismatch hypothesis. This hypothesis predicts that predator's recruitment will be high if the peak of the prey availability temporally matches the most energy-demanding period of the predators breeding phenology. However, the match–mismatch hypothesis ignores the level of food abundance while this can compensate small mismatches. Using a novel time-series model explicitly quantifying both the timing and the abundance component for trophic relationships, we here show that timing and abundance of food affect recruitment differently in a marine (cod/zooplankton), a marine–terrestrial (puffin/herring) and a terrestrial (sheep/vegetation) ecosystem. The quantification of the combined effect of abundance and timing of prey on predator dynamics enables us to come closer to the mechanisms by which environment variability may affect ecological systems.

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