Stronger inducible defences enhance persistence of intraguild prey
Journal of Animal Ecology
Summary 1. Intraguild predation is widespread in nature despite its potentially destabilizing effect on food web dynamics. 2. Anti-predator inducible defences affect both birth and death rates of populations and have the potential to substantially modify food web dynamics and possibly increase persistence of intaguild prey. 3. In a chemostat experiment, we investigated the long-term effects of inducible defences on the dynamics of aquatic microbial food webs consisting of an intraguild predator, intraguild prey, and a basal resource. We controlled environmental conditions and selected strains of intraguild prey that varied in the strength of expressed inducible defences. 4. We found that intraguild prey with a stronger tendency to induce an anti-predator morphology persist for significantly longer periods of time. In addition, model selection analysis implied that flexibility in defensive phenotype (inducibility itself) is most likely the factor responsible for the enhanced persistence. 5. As patterns at the community level often emerge as a result of the life-history traits of individuals, we propose that inducible defences increase the persistence of populations and may contribute to the widespread occurrence of theoretically unstable intraguild predation systems in nature.
Kratina, P., Hammill, E., and Anholt, B. R. 2010. Stronger inducible defences enhance persistence of intraguild prey. Journal of Animal Ecology. 79 (5): 993-999.