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Keywords:

  • Arrhenius;
  • attack rate;
  • functional response;
  • handling time;
  • optimum;
  • parasitoid;
  • predator;
  • prey;
  • response curve;
  • temperature

Ecology letters (2011) 14: 914–921

Abstract

The Arrhenius equation has emerged as the favoured model for describing the temperature dependence of consumption in predator–prey models. To examine the relevance of this equation, we undertook a meta-analysis of published relationships between functional response parameters and temperature. We show that, when plotted in lin-log space, temperature dependence of both attack rate and maximal ingestion rate exhibits a hump-shaped relationship and not a linear one as predicted by the Arrhenius equation. The relationship remains significantly downward concave even when data from temperatures above the peak of the hump are discarded. Temperature dependence is stronger for attack rate than for maximal ingestion rate, but the thermal optima are not different. We conclude that the use of the Arrhenius equation to describe consumption in predator–prey models requires the assumption that temperatures above thermal optima are unimportant for population and community dynamics, an assumption that is untenable given the available data.