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Ecology. 2007 Nov;88(11):2689-96.

The influence of intraguild predation on prey suppression and prey release: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, USA.


Intraguild predation (IGP) occurs when one predator species consumes another predator species with whom it also competes for shared prey. One question of interest to ecologists is whether multiple predator species suppress prey populations more than a single predator species, and whether this result varies with the presence of IGP. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine this question, and others, regarding the effects of IGP on prey suppression. When predators can potentially consume one another (mutual IGP), prey suppression is greater in the presence of one predator species than in the presence of multiple predator species; however, this result was not found for assemblages with unidirectional or no IGP. With unidirectional IGP, intermediate predators were generally more effective than the top predator at suppressing the shared prey, in agreement with IGP theory. Adding a top predator to an assemblage generally caused prey to be released from predation, while adding an intermediate predator caused prey populations to be suppressed. However, the effects of adding a top or intermediate predator depended on the effectiveness of these predators when they were alone. Effects of IGP varied across different ecosystems (e.g., lentic, lotic, marine, terrestrial invertebrate, and terrestrial vertebrate), with the strongest patterns being driven by terrestrial invertebrates. Finally, although IGP theory is based on equilibrium conditions, data from short-term experiments can inform us about systems that are dominated by transient dynamics. Moreover, short-term experiments may be connected in some way to equilibrium models if the predator and prey densities used in experiments approximate the equilibrium densities in nature.

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