The ubiquity of trophic downgrading has led to interest in the consequences of mesopredator release on prey communities and ecosystems. This issue is of particular concern for reef-fish communities, where predation is a key process driving ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Here, we synthesize existing experiments that have isolated the effects of mesopredators to quantify the role of predation in driving changes in the abundance and biodiversity of recently settled reef fishes. On average, predators reduced prey abundance through generalist foraging behavior, which, through a statistical sampling artifact, caused a reduction in alpha diversity and an increase in beta diversity. Thus, the synthesized experiments provide evidence that predation reduces overall abundance within prey communities, but—after accounting for sampling effects—does not cause disproportionate effects on biodiversity.
KeywordsPredator–prey Rarefaction Coral reef Reef fish Assembly Invasive predators
We are particularly grateful for Glenn Almany’s contributions to this project. Unfortunately, Glenn passed away before the manuscript could be completed; therefore, in addition to his intellectual contribution, we also dedicate this manuscript in memoriam to Glenn Almany, his friends, and his family. Many of the projects synthesized above were conducted on Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas and would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the employees there whose work ethic inspires us to this day. We thank Kalik, Kerleans, all of the station managers, chefs, mechanics, and field technicians that made this work possible.
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