Numerical Response (numerical + response)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Numerical and dietary responses of a predator community in a temperate zone of Europe

ECOGRAPHY, Issue 2 2009
Gilles Dupuy
The generalist predation hypothesis predicts that the functional responses of generalist predator species should be quicker than those of specialist predators and have a regulating effect on vole populations. New interpretations of their role in temperate ecosystems have, however, reactivated a debate suggesting generalist predators may have a destabilizing effect under certain conditions (e.g. landscape homogeneity, low prey diversity, temporary dominance of 1 prey species associated with a high degree of dietary specialization). We studied a rich predator community dominated by generalist carnivores (Martes spp., Vulpes vulpes, Felis catus) over a 6 yr period in farmland and woodland in France. The most frequent prey were small rodents (mostly Microtus arvalis, a grassland species, and Apodemus spp., a woodland species). Alternative prey were diverse and dominated by lagomorphs (Oryctolagus cuniculus, Lepus europeus). We detected a numerical response among specialist carnivores but not among generalist predators. The dietary responses of generalist predators were fairly complex and most often dependent on variation in density of at least 1 prey species. These results support the generalist predation hypothesis. We document a switch to alternative prey, an increase of diet diversity, and a decrease of diet overlap between small and medium-sized generalists during the low density phase of M. arvalis. In this ecosystem, the high density phases of small mammal species are synchronous and cause a temporary specializing of several generalist predator species. This rapid functional response may indicate the predominant role of generalists in low amplitude population cycles of voles observed in some temperate areas. [source]

Cascading effects of variation in plant vigour on the relative performance of insect herbivores and their parasitoids

Tiit Teder
Abstract 1. Consequences of variation in food plant quality were estimated for a system consisting of two monophagous noctuid herbivores and three ichneumonid parasitoids. 2. In a natural population, pupal weights of the herbivores in this system, Nonagria typhae and Archanara sparganii, were found to be highly variable. Pupal weights increased strongly and consistently with the increase in the vigour of the host plant, Typha latifolia, providing support for the plant vigour hypothesis. Correspondingly, as the moths do not feed as adults, a strong, positive correlation between host vigour and fecundity of the herbivores would be expected. 3. There were strong and positive relationships between adult body sizes of the parasitoids and the sizes of their lepidopteran hosts. Moreover, a direct, positive link between plant quality and parasitoid size was documented. 4. For all three parasitoids, cascading effects of plant quality on body size were weaker than for the herbivores. Differences in the importance of adult feeding and oviposition behaviour suggest that dependence of fitness on body size is also weaker in the parasitoids than in the moths. It is therefore concluded that the numerical response of the herbivore population to a change in plant quality should exceed the corresponding response in the parasitoids. 5. The results of this work imply that variation in plant variables may affect performance of different trophic levels to a different extent. It is suggested that the importance of adult feeding for the reproductive success (capital vs. income breeding strategies) in both herbivores and parasitoids is an essential aspect to consider when predicting responses of such a system to changes in plant quality. [source]

Cowpox virus infection in natural field vole Microtus agrestis populations: delayed density dependence and individual risk

Summary 1Little is known about the dynamics of pathogen (microparasite) infection in wildlife populations, and less still about sources of variation in the risk of infection. Here we present the first detailed analysis of such variation. 2Cowpox virus is an endemic sublethal pathogen circulating in populations of wild rodents. Cowpox prevalence was monitored longitudinally for 2 years, in populations of field voles exhibiting multiannual cycles of density in Kielder Forest, UK. 3The probability that available susceptible animals seroconverted in a given trap session was significantly positively related to host density with a 3-month time lag. 4Males were significantly more likely to seroconvert than females. 5Despite most infection being found in young animals (because transmission rates were generally high) mature individuals were more likely to seroconvert than immature ones, suggesting that behavioural or physiological changes associated with maturity contribute to variation in infection risk. 6Hence, these analyses confirm that there is a delayed numerical response of cowpox infection to vole density, supporting the hypothesis that endemic pathogens may play some part in shaping vole cycles. [source]

Predation of beech seed by mice: effects of numerical and functional responses

Summary 1The functional response of post-dispersal seed predators (house mouse, Mus musculus) to absolute densities of southern beech seed (Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides) was studied in laboratory and field trials. House mice showed a Type II (hyperbolic) functional response to seed availability and this was not modified by the presence of an alternative food source. 2Maximum daily intake rate of beech seeds during field trials averaged 1042 seeds mouse,1. This is sufficient to provide house mice with both the energy and protein required for growth and reproduction. 3We explicitly incorporated the functional response into the numerical response of house mice to beech seed, measured for field populations monitored in a New Zealand beech forest. House mice showed a strong numerical response to beech seed intake rate that was modified by some density-dependent mechanism(s). 4We developed a model that simulated seedfall, house mouse population growth and seed reserve depletion over one year. We found that the previously reported decline in house-mouse populations in beech forests during spring and summer is likely to be related to spring beech seed germination that renders seed no longer available as a food source for house mice. 5From our simulation model it does not appear that house-mouse populations can completely eat-out beech seed reserves prior to germination in a year of large seedfall. ,Masting' behaviour in New Zealand native beech trees is therefore sufficient to satiate an eruptive population of an exotic mammalian omnivore, despite the lack of a long co-evolutionary interaction. [source]

Landscape complementation and food limitation of large herbivores: habitat-related constraints on the foraging efficiency of wild pigs

David Choquenot
Summary 1The effect that the proximity of habitats containing essential resources has on animal abundance at large spatial scales is called landscape complementation. Landscape complementation can influence interaction between large herbivores and their food resources where the proximity of habitats containing essential resources constrains their foraging or demographic efficiency. 2We tested the effect that the proximity of a thermal refuge (riverine woodlands) had on interaction between wild pigs and their food resources (pasture). The numerical response of pigs (Sus scrofa L.) (estimated as r quarter,1) to pasture biomass was contrasted between four sites that were progressively more isolated from a major floodplain containing extensive areas of riverine woodland. To test whether proximity to riverine woodlands affected the numerical response of pigs through a constraint on foraging efficiency, we contrasted the numerical response of pigs between the four areas as pasture biomass declined. To test whether pigs exploited riverine woodlands primarily as a thermal refuge, we contrasted the numerical response of pigs between the four areas in different seasons. 3We found that although pasture biomass was similar in the four areas, r was lower than expected for given pasture biomass on the two areas further away from riverine woodlands. We also found that while the effect that proximity to riverine woodlands had on the numerical response of pigs became more pronounced when pasture biomass was low, it was not significantly affected by season. 4These results suggest that the need to access riverine woodlands compromises the foraging efficiency of wild pigs when the distance to this habitat is relatively high, but that the need to access this habitat may not be purely related to thermoregulation. 5We developed a simple mechanistic model that allows the effects of landscape complementation on herbivore foraging and demographic efficiency to be estimated, and used the model to predict the effect that proximity to riverine woodlands would have on variation in pig density. The model suggests that wild pigs cannot persist in areas more then 10 km from extensive riverine woodlands, unless those areas are periodically re-colonized. This suggests that at the margin of their range around inland river systems, given locations that can be occupied by wild pigs will vary temporally between being sources, pseudosinks and sinks. [source]

Does Holling's disc equation explain the functional response of a kleptoparasite?

R. W. G. Caldow
Summary 1Type II functional responses, which can be described by Holling's disc equation, have been found in many studies of predator/prey and host/parasite interactions. However, an increasing number of studies have shown that the assumptions on which the disc equation is based do not necessarily hold. We examine the functional response of kleptoparasitically feeding Arctic skuas (Stercorarius parasiticus L.) to the abundance of fish-carrying auks and, by examination of the assumptions of the disc equation, test whether it can explain the function. 2The rate at which individual skuas make successful chases is a decelerating function of the abundance of auks. However, it would appear that this is not determined by factors that influence their probability of success, but by the rate at which they initiate chases. This too is a decelerating function of the abundance of auks. Arctic skuas have a Type II functional response. 3Although Arctic skuas exhibited a direct numerical response there was no evidence that components of predation connected to the density of predators (direct prey stealing, or increased host avoidance) had any effect on the rate at which individual skuas made chases or were successful in their chases. We conclude that the observed functional response is free from any effects of interference. 4We suggest that abnormally high levels of foraging effort expended by breeding skuas and their poor breeding success in the years of observation argue against the limit to the observed functional response being determined by skuas' energetic requirements. 5Several of the assumptions underlying the disc equation do not hold. The duration of chases (handling time) was not a constant; it decreased with increasing host abundance. Moreover, the chase duration predicted by the disc equation, if handling time limited the functional response, was far in excess of that observed. Furthermore, the observed rate of decline in the searching time per victim with increasing host abundance suggested that skuas' instantaneous rate of discovery was also not constant. Possible reasons for these observations are discussed. The basic disc equation may describe Arctic skuas' functional response, but it cannot explain it. [source]

Teretrius nigrescens against larger grain borer Prostephanus truncatus in African maize stores: biological control at work?

Niels Holst
Summary 1Following the accidental introduction of the bostrichid beetle Prostephanus truncatus into East and West Africa around 1980, a classical biological control campaign was launched in 1991; the histerid beetle Teretrius nigrescens was released as a biocontrol agent to prevent the destructive outbreak of the pest in small-farm maize stores. However, while the campaign has been ongoing, so has discussion in the scientific community about the merits of this campaign and its chances of success. 2From published and unpublished data from experimental maize stores in Benin, West Africa, we derived statistical models describing the in-store insect population dynamics, and were thus able to point out significant biological interactions and to explain the observed lack of biological control. 3We found that (i) T. nigrescens reduced significantly the population growth rate of both P. truncatus and the non-target pest, the weevil Sitophilus zeamais; (ii) T. nigrescens displayed a positive numerical response to both prey species, P. truncatus and S. zeamais; (iii) asymmetric competition existed between the two prey species, S. zeamais was negatively affected by P. truncatus but not vice versa; (iv) T. nigrescens and S. zeamais displayed negative intraspecific density-dependence whereas P. truncatus was resource-limited. 4We conclude that classical biological control with T. nigrescens is not likely to become successful, mainly due to the predator's intraspecific density-dependence and its low population growth rate compared with its prey. We recommend that further research on P. truncatus integrated pest management takes into account the farmer as an active agent managing the store. 5Synthesis and applications. When biocontrol does not result in satisfactory pest control, as in the case of P. truncatus, farmers should learn how to scout for the pest and take action when a need is detected. In areas where the pest is usually only a minor problem, the agricultural extension service should consider setting up a simple early warning system for their region. When attempts at classical biological control remain unsuccessful, as in the case of P. truncatus now for 10 years, policy-makers should prioritize training of extension service and farmers in integrated pest management techniques (e.g. need-based use of insecticides) as a necessary supplement to biocontrol. [source]

Species-specific responses of planktivorous fish to the introduction of a new piscivore: implications for prey fitness

Summary 1. Antipredator behaviour by the facultative planktivorous fish species roach (Rutilus rutilus), perch (Perca fluviatilis) and rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) was studied in a multi-year whole-lake experiment to evaluate species-specific behavioural and numerical responses to the stocking of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca), a predator with different foraging behaviour than the resident predators large perch (P. fluviatilis) and pike (Esox lucius). 2. Behavioural responses to pikeperch varied greatly during the night, ranging from reduced activity (roach and small perch) and a shift in habitat (roach), to no change in the habitat use and activity of rudd. The differing responses of the different planktivorous prey species highlight the potential variation in behavioural response to predation risk from species of similar vulnerability. 3. These differences had profound effects on fitness; the density of species that exhibited an antipredator response declined only slightly (roach) or even increased (small perch), whereas the density of the species that did not exhibit an antipredator response (rudd) decreased dramatically (by more than 80%). 4. The maladaptive behaviour of rudd can be explained by a ,behavioural syndrome', i.e. the interdependence of behaviours expressed in different contexts (feeding activity, antipredator) across different situations (different densities of predators). 5. Our study extends previous studies, that have typically been limited to more controlled situations, by illustrating the variability in intensity of phenotypic responses to predators, and the consequences for population density, in a large whole-lake setting. [source]

Strength of asymmetric competition between predators in food webs ruled by fluctuating prey: the case of foxes in tundra

OIKOS, Issue 1 2010
John-André Henden
In food webs heavily influenced by multi-annual population fluctuations of key herbivores, predator species may differ in their functional and numerical responses as well as their competitive ability. Focusing on red and arctic fox in tundra with cyclic populations of rodents as key prey, we develop a model to predict how population dynamics of a dominant and versatile predator (red fox) impacted long-term growth rate of a subdominant and less versatile predator (arctic fox). We compare three realistic scenarios of red fox performance: (1) a numerical response scenario where red fox acted as a resident rodent specialist exhibiting population cycles lagging one year after the rodent cycle, (2) an aggregative response scenario where red fox shifted between tundra and a nearby ecosystem (i.e. boreal forest) so as to track rodent peaks in tundra without delay, and (3) a constant subsidy scenario in which the red fox population was stabilized at the same mean density as in the other two scenarios. For all three scenarios it is assumed that the arctic fox responded numerically as a rodent specialist and that the mechanisms of competition is of a interference type for space, in which the arctic fox is excluded from the most resource rich patches in tundra. Arctic fox is impacted most by the constant subsidy scenario and least by the numerical response scenario. The differential effects of the scenarios stemmed from cyclic phase-dependent sensitivity to competition mediated by changes in temporal mean and variance of available prey to the subdominant predator. A general implication from our result is that external resource subsidies (prey or habitats), monopolized by the dominant competitor, can significantly reduce the likelihood for co-existence within the predator guild. In terms of conservation of vulnerable arctic fox populations this means that the likelihood of extinction increases with increasing amount of subsidies (e.g. carcasses of large herbivores or marine resources) in tundra and nearby forest areas, since it will act to both increase and stabilize populations of red fox. [source]