Using predator-prey theory to predict outcomes of a broad-scale test of apparent competition
journal contributionposted on 2020-09-16, 04:06 authored by R Serrouya, M Wittmann, B McLellan, Heiko WittmerHeiko Wittmer, S Boutin
© 2015 by The University of Chicago. 0003-0147/2015/18505-55371$15.00. All rights reserved. Apparent competition is an important process influencing many ecological communities. We used predator-prey theory to predict outcomes of ecosystem experiments aimed at mitigating apparent competition by reducing primary prey. Simulations predicted declines in secondary prey following reductions in primary prey because predators consumed more secondary prey until predator numbers responded to reduced prey densities. Losses were exacerbated by a higher carrying capacity of primary prey and a longer lag time of the predator’s numerical response, but a gradual reduction in primary prey was less detrimental to the secondary prey. We compared predictions against two field experiments where endangered woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) were victims of apparent competition. First, when deer (Odocoileus sp.) declined suddenly following a severe winter, cougar (Puma concolor) declined with a 1– 2-year lag, yet in the interim more caribou were killed by cougars, and caribou populations declined by 40%. Second, when moose (Alces alces) were gradually reduced using a management experiment, wolf (Canis lupus) populations declined but did not shift consumption to caribou, and the largest caribou subpopulation stabilized. The observed contrasting outcomes of sudden versus gradual declines in primary prey supported theoretical predictions. Combining theory with field studies clarified how to manage communities to mitigate endangerment caused by apparent competition that affects many taxa.
Preferred citationSerrouya, R., Wittmann, M., McLellan, B., Wittmer, H. & Boutin, S. (2015). Using predator-prey theory to predict outcomes of a broad-scale test of apparent competition. The American Naturalist, 185(5), 665-679. https://doi.org/10.1086/680510
Journal titleThe American Naturalist
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Read the peer-reviewed publication
apparent competitionpredationRangifer tarandusCanis lupusOdocoileus virginianusconservationAnimalsCompetitive BehaviorConservation of Natural ResourcesDeerEcosystemFood ChainModels, BiologicalPopulation DynamicsPredatory BehaviorPumaSeasonsWolvesScience & TechnologyLife Sciences & BiomedicineEcologyEvolutionary BiologyEnvironmental Sciences & EcologyENDANGERED MOUNTAIN CARIBOUWOODLAND CARIBOUPOPULATION-DYNAMICSBRITISH-COLUMBIASPECIES CONSERVATIONUNGULATE POPULATIONSPACE USEKILL RATEWOLVESMANAGEMENTBiological Sciences