Effects of alternative prey on predation by small mammals on gypsy moth pupae
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- Elkinton, J.S., Liebhold, A.M. & Muzika, RM. Popul Ecol (2004) 46: 171. doi:10.1007/s10144-004-0175-y
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Previous work shows that predation by small mammals is a dominant cause of mortality of low-density gypsy moths in North America and that declines in small mammal density result in increases in gypsy moth density. Here we examined whether predation by small mammals is density dependent by way of a type III functional response, and how predation is influenced by alternative prey. First we showed that the preference of predators for gypsy moth pupae was low compared to other experimental prey items, such as mealworm pupae and sunflower seeds. Predation on gypsy moth pupae was characterized by a type II functional response with percent predation highest at the lowest prey densities, whereas the functional response to sunflower seeds was characterized by a type III functional response in which predation increased with increasing prey density. These results suggest that predation by small mammals is unlikely to stabilize low-density gypsy moth populations.