Chalcraft, D.R. and Resetarits, W.J.
Metabolic rate models and the substitutability of predator populations
Journal of Animal Ecology, 73, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.0021-8790.2004.00809.x).
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• Much of the debate surrounding the consequences of biodiversity loss centres around the issue of whether different species are functionally similar in their effects on ecological processes. In this study, we examined whether populations consisting of smaller, more abundant individuals are functionally similar to populations of the same species with larger, fewer individuals.
• We manipulated the biomass and density of banded sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus) and measured their impact on populations of Southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala) larvae. We also evaluated the ability of models relating metabolic rate to body size to predict the relative impacts of populations that differ in average body size and population density.
• Our results indicate that population biomass, density and their interaction each play a large role in determining the effect of a predator population on its food resource. Populations with smaller but more abundant individuals had effects as large or larger than those populations with larger but fewer individuals.
• Although we found qualitative agreement between the observed relative effects of populations with that predicted by allometric models, we also found that density-dependence can cause effects of a population to differ from that expected based on allometry.
• The substitutability of populations differing in average body size appears to depend on complex relationships between metabolic rate, population density and the strength of density-dependence. The restrictive conditions necessary to establish functional equivalence among different populations of the same species suggests that functional equivalence should be rare in most communities.
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