, Volume 162, Issue 2, pp 443-452
Date: 24 Sep 2009

Interactions of multiple predators with different foraging modes in an aquatic food web

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Top predators can have different foraging modes that may alter their interactions and effects on food webs. Interactions between predators may be non-additive resulting from facilitation or interference, whereas their combined effects on a shared prey may result in emergent effects that are risk enhanced or risk reduced. To test the importance of multiple predators with different foraging modes, we examined the interaction between a cruising predator (largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides) and an ambush predator (muskellunge, Esox masquinongy) foraging on a shared prey (bluegill sunfish, Lepomis macrochirus) with strong anti-predator defense behaviors. Additive and substitution designs were used to compare individual to combined predator treatments in experimental ponds. The multiple predator interaction facilitated growth of the cruising predator in the combined predator treatments, whereas predator species had substitutable effects on the growth of the ambush predator. The combined predator treatments created an emergent effect on the prey; however, the direction was dependent on the experimental design. The additive design found a risk-reducing effect, whereas the substitution design found a risk-enhancing effect for prey fish. Indirect effects from the predators weakly extended to lower trophic levels (i.e., zooplankton community). Our results highlight the need to consider differences in foraging mode of top predators, interactions between predators, and emergent effects on prey to understand food webs.

Communicated by Steven Kohler.