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Oecologia. 2005 Jul;144(3):472-80. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Multiple predator effects result in risk reduction for prey across multiple prey densities.

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  • 1School of Integrative Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA.


Investigating how prey density influences a prey's combined predation risk from multiple predator species is critical for understanding the widespread importance of multiple predator effects. We conducted experiments that crossed six treatments consisting of zero, one, or two predator species (hellgrammites, greenside darters, and creek chubs) with three treatments in which we varied the density of mayfly prey. None of the multiple predator effects in our system were independent, and instead, the presence of multiple predator species resulted in risk reduction for the prey across both multiple predator combinations and all three levels of prey density. Risk reduction is likely to have population-level consequences for the prey, resulting in larger prey populations than would be predicted if the effects of multiple predator species were independent. For one of the two multiple predator combinations, the magnitude of risk reduction marginally increased with prey density. As a result, models predicting the combined risk from multiple predator species in this system will sometimes need to account for prey density as a factor influencing per-capita prey death rates.

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