Temporal dynamics of a simple community with intraguild predation: an experimental test
MetadataShow full item record
Hiltunen, T.; Jones, L. E.; Ellner, S. P.; Hairston, Nelson G., Jr.
We explore how adding complexity to a typical predator-prey interaction affects temporal dynamics. Intraguild predation webs contain competition, predation, and omnivory in a system of three species where theory and empirical results can be compared. We studied a planktonic microcosm community in which an alga is consumed by a flagellate and by a rotifer that also consumes the flagellate. Previously published theory predicts that phase lags between the species are the outcome of a "tug of war" among the intraguild-predation links: rotifers-algae, flagellates-algae, and rotifers-flagellates. We observed sustained oscilltions with abundance peaks that corresponded exactly to theoretical predictions in all replicates: peaks of the rotifers and flagellates fell on either side of a quarter-period lag behind the prey (algae) peaks, with the peak of the intermediate predator (flagellates) preceding that of the top predator (rotifers). The phase lags in these experiments suggest that temporal variation in flagellate growth rate is primarily driven by variation in the intensity of its consumption by rotifers, rather than by variation in the density of its algal prey. This system illustrates how interaction strength affects the pattern of intraguild predation cycles and provides an opportunity to explore how evolution of interaction strength may affect those dynamics.
Ecological Society of America
algae; Brachionus plicatilis; chemostat; Chlorella autrophica; flagellates; intermediate predator; laboratory microcosm; mathematical models; Oxyrrhis marina; predator-prey dynamics; rotifers; tri-trophic food web
Previously Published As
Ecology (2013) 94:773-779