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Prey diversity effects on ecosystem functioning depend on consumer identity and prey composition

Prey diversity effects on ecosystem functioning depend on consumer identity and prey composition
Prey diversity effects on ecosystem functioning depend on consumer identity and prey composition
Consumer diversity effects on ecosystem functioning are highly context dependent and are determined by consumer specialization and other consumer and prey specific traits such as growth and grazing rates. Despite complex reciprocal interactions between consumers and their prey, few experimental studies have focused on prey diversity effects on consumer dynamics and trophic transfer. In microbial microcosms, we investigated effects of algal prey diversity (one, two and four species) on the production, evenness and grazing rates of 4 ciliate consumers, differing in grazing preferences and rates. Prey diversity increased prey biovolume in the absence of consumers and had opposing effects on different consumers, depending on their specialization and their preferred prey. Consumers profited from prey mixtures compared to monocultures of non-preferred prey, but responded negatively if preferred prey species were offered together with other species. Prey diversity increased consumer evenness by preventing dominance of specific consumers, demonstrating that the loss of prey species may have cascading effects resulting in reduced consumer diversity. Our study emphasizes that not only the degree of specialization but also the selectivity for certain prey species within the dietary niche may alter the consequences of changing prey diversity in a food web context.
0029-8549
653-661
Wohlgemuth, Daniel
ec239ea9-8600-4930-af70-7feb22b78004
Filip, Joanna
b509409a-5daf-4bd3-b27b-d76190a405c8
Hillebrand, Helmut
d2b1ee98-ea67-426b-974c-147f25f393d4
Moorthi, Stefanie D.
893fe377-5df3-492c-8696-c305cc450248
Wohlgemuth, Daniel
ec239ea9-8600-4930-af70-7feb22b78004
Filip, Joanna
b509409a-5daf-4bd3-b27b-d76190a405c8
Hillebrand, Helmut
d2b1ee98-ea67-426b-974c-147f25f393d4
Moorthi, Stefanie D.
893fe377-5df3-492c-8696-c305cc450248

Wohlgemuth, Daniel, Filip, Joanna, Hillebrand, Helmut and Moorthi, Stefanie D. (2017) Prey diversity effects on ecosystem functioning depend on consumer identity and prey composition. Oecologia, 184 (3), 653-661. (doi:10.1007/s00442-017-3892-6).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Consumer diversity effects on ecosystem functioning are highly context dependent and are determined by consumer specialization and other consumer and prey specific traits such as growth and grazing rates. Despite complex reciprocal interactions between consumers and their prey, few experimental studies have focused on prey diversity effects on consumer dynamics and trophic transfer. In microbial microcosms, we investigated effects of algal prey diversity (one, two and four species) on the production, evenness and grazing rates of 4 ciliate consumers, differing in grazing preferences and rates. Prey diversity increased prey biovolume in the absence of consumers and had opposing effects on different consumers, depending on their specialization and their preferred prey. Consumers profited from prey mixtures compared to monocultures of non-preferred prey, but responded negatively if preferred prey species were offered together with other species. Prey diversity increased consumer evenness by preventing dominance of specific consumers, demonstrating that the loss of prey species may have cascading effects resulting in reduced consumer diversity. Our study emphasizes that not only the degree of specialization but also the selectivity for certain prey species within the dietary niche may alter the consequences of changing prey diversity in a food web context.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 30 May 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 June 2017
Published date: 1 July 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 413297
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/413297
ISSN: 0029-8549
PURE UUID: d9abaa25-89fb-4d86-a715-1620715cf8b4

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Date deposited: 21 Aug 2017 16:31
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 04:23

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Contributors

Author: Daniel Wohlgemuth
Author: Joanna Filip
Author: Helmut Hillebrand
Author: Stefanie D. Moorthi

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