Ecological Society of America
Spatial self-organization can occur in many ecosystems with important effects on food web dynamics and the maintenance of biodiversity. The consumer-resource interaction is known to generate spatial patterning, but only a few empirical studies have investigated the effect of the consumer on resource distribution. Here we report results from a large aquatic mesocosm experiment used to investigate the effect of the consumer Daphnia magna on the distribution of its resource, the green algae Chlorella vulgaris. We maintained large tanks with capacity for 26 ,000 L with either algae or both algae and Daphnia in different temperature conditions. We found that the presence of D. magna inhibited spatial structure in algal distribution that arose as a consequence of increasing temperature. We conjecture that this homogenization effect might be caused by a combination of high mobility combined with high rates of algal consumption by Daphnia. Our study emphasizes the importance of both local constraints on growth and behavioral responses in either promoting or suppressing spatial self-organization in natural populations.
Betini, G., T. Avgar, K.S. McCann, and J.M. Fryxell (2017) Daphnia Inhibits the Emergence of Spatial Pattern in a Simple Consumer-Resource System. Ecology, 98: 1163-1170.