Temporally fluctuating prey and interfering predators: a positive feedback

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Abstract

Prey densities often show fluctuating patterns over various timescales. Focusing on short-term, within-generation fluctuating patterns of local prey availability, we suggest that prey that show synchronized and high-amplitude fluctuations in availability experience decreased risks of predation, but also enhance the maintenance of predator interference hierarchies by affecting the relative foraging success of unequal conspecific interferers. When predators interfere with each other, they forage less intensely on prey, which benefits prey in terms of decreased predation risk. The system hence involves a positive feedback. We thus argue that short-term temporal fluctuations in local prey availability could be an important mechanism behind how interference-structured social predator systems are developed and sustained. The temporal fluctuations also have implications for the phenotypic diversity of predators, and may be involved in speciation processes.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-165
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume68
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes