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Ecol Lett. 2019 Nov;22(11):1734-1745. doi: 10.1111/ele.13334. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

Predation risk influences food-web structure by constraining species diet choice.

Author information

1
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, SL5 7PY, UK.
2
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, NZ.
3
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.

Abstract

The foraging behaviour of species determines their diet and, therefore, also emergent food-web structure. Optimal foraging theory (OFT) has previously been applied to understand the emergence of food-web structure through a consumer-centric consideration of diet choice. However, the resource-centric viewpoint, where species adjust their behaviour to reduce the risk of predation, has not been considered. We develop a mechanistic model that merges metabolic theory with OFT to incorporate the effect of predation risk on diet choice to assemble food webs. This 'predation-risk-compromise' (PR) model better captures the nestedness and modularity of empirical food webs relative to the classical optimal foraging model. Specifically, compared with optimal foraging alone, risk-mitigated foraging leads to more-nested but less-modular webs by broadening the diet of consumers at intermediate trophic levels. Thus, predation risk significantly affects food-web structure by constraining species' ability to forage optimally, and needs to be considered in future work.

KEYWORDS:

Diet choice; food-web structure; food-web topology; metabolic theory; modularity; nestedness; optimal foraging; predation risk

PMID:
31389145
DOI:
10.1111/ele.13334
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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