Landscape of fear influences the relative importance of consumptive and nonconsumptive predator effects


  • Corresponding Editor: S. G. Morgan.


Predators can initiate trophic cascades by consuming and/or scaring their prey. Although both forms of predator effect can increase the overall abundance of prey's resources, nonconsumptive effects may be more important to the spatial and temporal distribution of resources because predation risk often determines where and when prey choose to forage. Our experiment characterized temporal and spatial variation in the strength of consumptive and nonconsumptive predator effects in a rocky intertidal food chain consisting of the predatory green crab (Carcinus maenas), an intermediate consumer (the dogwhelk, Nucella lapillus), and barnacles (Semibalanus balanoides) as a resource. We tracked the survival of individual barnacles through time to map the strength of predator effects in experimental communities. These maps revealed striking spatiotemporal patterns in Nucella foraging behavior in response to each predator effect. However, only the nonconsumptive effect of green crabs produced strong spatial patterns in barnacle survivorship. Predation risk may play a pivotal role in determining the small-scale distribution patterns of this important rocky intertidal foundation species. We suggest that the effects of predation risk on individual foraging behavior may scale up to shape community structure and dynamics at a landscape level.