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Ecology. 2008 Oct;89(10):2786-97.

Coexistence of intraguild predators and prey in resource-rich environments.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California-Los Angeles, 621 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


The prevalence of intraguild predation (IGP) in productive environments has long puzzled ecologists. Theory predicts the exclusion of intraguild prey from such environments, but data consistently defy this expectation. This suggests that coexistence mechanisms at high resource productivity may differ from those at lower productivity. Here I present a mathematical model that investigates multiple coexistence mechanisms. I incorporate two biological features widely observed in IGP communities: intraspecific interference via cannibalism or superparasitism, and temporal refuges arising from differential sensitivities to abiotic variation. I develop predictions based on three aspects of the IG prey-IG predator interaction: mutual invasibility, transient dynamics, and long-term abundances. These predictions specify the conditions under which coexistence mechanisms reinforce vs. deter one another: when a competition-IGP trade-off allows coexistence at intermediate productivity a temporal refuge for the intraguild prey always allows coexistence at high productivity, but intraspecific interference does so only at a net fitness cost to the intraguild predator. Intraspecific interference that benefits the intraguild predator not only reduces tradeoff-mediated coexistence at intermediate productivity, but also undermines the refuge's coexistence-enhancing effect at high productivity. Different mechanism combinations yield characteristic signatures in time series data during transient dynamics. By judicious measurement of parameters and examining time series for critical signatures, one can elucidate the mechanisms that allow IGP to prevail in resource-rich environments.

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