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Combined effects of predator cues and competition define habitat choice and food consumption of amphipod mesograzers.


ABSTRACT: Predation has direct impact on prey populations by reducing prey abundance. In addition, predator presence alone can also have non-consumptive effects on prey species, potentially influencing their interspecific interactions and thus the structure of entire assemblages. The performance of potential prey species may, therefore, depend on both the presence of predators and competitors. We studied habitat use and food consumption of a marine mesograzer, the amphipod Echinogammarus marinus, in the presence/absence of a fish mesopredator and/or an amphipod competitor. The presence of the predator affected both habitat choice and food consumption of the grazer, indicating a trade-off between the use of predator-free space and food acquisition. Without the predator, E. marinus were distributed equally over different microhabitats, whereas in the presence of the predator, most individuals chose a sheltered microhabitat and reduced their food consumption. Furthermore, habitat choice of the amphipods changed in the presence of interspecific competitors, also resulting in reduced feeding rates. The performance of E. marinus is apparently driven by trait-mediated direct and indirect effects caused by the interplay of predator avoidance and competition. This highlights the importance of potential non-consumptive impacts of predators on their prey organisms. The flexible responses of small invertebrate consumers to the combined effects of predation and competition potentially lead to changes in the structure of coastal ecosystems and the multiple species interactions therein.

SUBMITTER: Beermann J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5829112 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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