, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 117-122
Date: 15 Jan 2004

Is prey predation risk influenced more by increasing predator density or predator species richness in stream enclosures?

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Abstract

The direct lethal impacts and the indirect effects predators have on prey characteristics, such as behavior, have fitness consequences for the prey. Whether the level of predation risk that prey face in the presence of multiple predator species can be predicted from a null model that sums the risk from each predator species in isolation is unclear. In field enclosures, we tested whether the predation risk experienced by Stenonema mayfly larvae from a dragonfly larva (Boyeria vinosa) and a hellgrammite (Corydalus cornutus) together matched the predictions of the multiplicative risk model. We then compared whether any deviations from the model’s predictions were larger in the presence of two predator species than in the presence of an equivalent density of individuals from either predator species alone, to determine if unique effects arise for the prey in the presence of multiple predator species. We also determined if prey moved preferentially into predator-free refuge spaces or decreased their movement in the presence of predators. Stenonema’s risk of predation was reduced compared to the model’s prediction, but no unique multiple predator species effects were present because this risk reduction was comparable in magnitude to the level exhibited in the presence of each predator species alone. The prey did not move into predator-free refuge spaces in the presence of predators in the field enclosures. Thus, these predators appear to interfere interspecifically and intraspecifically, which may facilitate the coexistence of the predators and the prey.