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Ecology. 2006 Apr;87(4):987-95.

Predator identity and additive effects in a treehole community.

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University of Florida, Entomology and Nematology Department, P.O. Box 110620, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


Multiple predator species can interact as well as strongly affect lower trophic levels, resulting in complex, nonadditive effects on prey populations and community structure. Studies of aquatic systems have shown that interactive effects of predators on prey are not necessarily predictable from the direct effects of each species alone. To test for complex interactions, the individual and combined effects of a top and intermediate predator on larvae of native and invasive mosquito prey were examined in artificial analogues of water-filled treeholes. The combined effects of the two predators were accurately predicted from single predator treatments by a multiplicative risk model, indicating additivity. Overall survivorship of both prey species decreased greatly in the presence of the top predator Toxorhynchites rutilus. By itself, the intermediate predator Corethrella appendiculata increased survivorship of the native prey species Ochlerotatus triseriatus and decreased survivorship of the invasive prey species Aedes albopictus relative to treatments without predators. Intraguild predation did not occur until alternative prey numbers had been reduced by approximately one-half. Owing to changes in size structure accompanying its growth, T. rutilus consumed more prey as time progressed, whereas C. appendiculata consumed less. The intermediate predator, C. appendiculata, changed species composition by preferentially consuming A. albopictus, while the top predator, T. rutilus, reduced prey density, regardless of species. Although species interactions were in most cases predicted from pairwise interactions, risk reduction from predator interference occurred when C. appendiculata densities were increased and when the predators were similarly sized.

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