, Volume 188, Issue 2, pp 417–427 | Cite as

Multiple predator effects on juvenile prey survival

  • M. M. PalaciosEmail author
  • M. E. Malerba
  • M. I. McCormick
Behavioral ecology –original research


Predicting multiple predator effects (MPEs) on shared prey remains one of the biggest challenges in ecology. Empirical evidence indicates that interactions among predators can alter predation rates and modify any expected linear effects on prey survival. Knowledge on predator density, identity and life-history traits is expected to help predict the behavioral mechanisms that lead to non-linear changes in predation. Yet, few studies have rigorously examined the effects of predator–predator interactions on prey survival, particularly with marine vertebrate predators. Using an additive-substitutive design, we experimentally paired reef piscivores with different hunting mode [active predator, Pseudochromis fuscus (F); ambush predators, Cephalopholis boenak (B), Epinephelus maculatus (M)] to determine how behavioral interactions modified their combined impacts on damselfish prey. Results showed that behavioral patterns among predators matched those predicted from their hunting mode. However, it was the identity of the predators what determined the strength of any positive or negative interactions, and thus the nature and magnitude of MPEs on prey survival (i.e., risk-enhancing effects: treatments BB, MM and FM; risk-reducing: BM; and linear effects: FF, FB). Given the specificity of predator–predator interactions, none of the predators were fully functionally redundant. Even when two species seemed substitutable (i.e., predators F and M), they led to vastly diverse effects when paired with additional predator species (i.e., B). We concluded that knowledge of the identity of the predator species and the behavioral interactions among them is crucial to successfully predict MPEs in natural systems.


Predator identity Predator hunting mode Predator density Additive-substitutive design Mesopredators Coral reef fish 



We are grateful to Donald Warren, Pascal Sebastian, and Bridie Allan who provided assistance in the field. We also thank the directors and staff of Lizard Island Research Station (a facility of the Australian Museum) for their continuous logistical support. This research was funded by an Ian Potter Doctoral fellowship at Lizard Island and an Australian Coral Reef Society award granted to MMP. Additional funds were provided by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. Several anonymous reviewers and editors provided constructive feedback to improve the quality of this manuscript.

Author contribution statement

MMP and MIM designed the study. MMP conducted the experiment and collected all the data. MEM carried out the statistical analyses. MMP wrote the manuscript, while MEM and MIM provided substantial feedback. All authors gave final approval for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

442_2018_4182_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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