Prey Exchange Rates and the Impact of Predators on Prey Populations in Streams
Cooper, S. D.
Walde, Sandra Joan
Peckarsky, B. L.
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We present four lines of evidence that the magnitude of prey exchange (=immigration/emigration) among substrate patches has an overwhelming influence on the perceived effects of predators on prey populations. (1) An extensive review of the literature on predation effects in benthic and littoral freshwater habitats revealed a significant relationship between prey exchange rate and observed predator impact. In streams, studies showing significant predator effects used cages with smaller mesh sizes than studies showing nonsignificant effects. Similarly, there was a highly significant correlation between cage mesh size and the magnitude of predator impact on common prey. Large-scale stream studies indicated that prey drift and colonization rate were inversely related to predator impact on benthic prey. (2) These patterns were confirmed by field experiments and observations where mesh size was directly manipulated or where exchange rates varied among taxa. In Colorado streams we saw greater predator impacts on Baetis prey when immigration/emigration was restricted vs. when the mesh size of the cage was relatively large. Similarly, the effects of trout in California stream pools were greater when prey turnover rates were low. (3) A re-analysis of Peckarsky's (1985) data shows an inverse relationship between predator impact and prey mobility within a field experiment. (4) Finally, a model than incorporates both predation and exchange of prey indicates that we ought to expect a lower magnitude of predator effects when exchange rates are high. These results suggest that some discrepancies in past studies may be explained by differences in the exchange rates of prey, and that differences in predator effects across different systems or habitats may be related to variation in the rates of prey dispersal and colonization.
Cooper, S. D., S. J. Walde, and B. L. Peckarsky. 1990. "Prey Exchange Rates and the Impact of Predators on Prey Populations in Streams." Ecology (Washington D C) 71(4): 1503-1514.