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Habitat structural complexity mediates the foraging success of multiple predator species


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Warfe, DM and Barmuta, LA 2004 , 'Habitat structural complexity mediates the foraging success of multiple predator species' , Oecologia, vol. 141 , pp. 171-178 , doi: 10.1007/s00442-004-1644-x.

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We investigated the role of freshwater macrophytes as refuge by testing the hypothesis that predators capture fewer prey in more dense and structurally complex habitats. We also tested the hypothesis that habitat structure not only affects the prey-capture success of a single predator in isolation, but also the effectiveness of two predators combined, particularly if it mediates interactions between the predators. We conducted a fully crossed four-factorial laboratory experiment using artificial plants to determine the separate quantitative (density) and qualitative (shape) components of macrophyte structure on the prey-capture success of a predatory damselfly, Ischnura heterosticta tasmanica, and the southern pygmy perch, Nannoperca australis. Contrary to our expectations, macrophyte density had no effect on the prey-capture success of either predator, but both predators were significantly less effective in the structurally complex Myriophyllum analogue than in the structurally simpler Triglochin and Eleocharis analogues. Furthermore, the greater structural complexity of Myriophyllum amplified the impact of the negative interaction between the predators on prey numbers; the habitat use by damselfly larvae in response to the presence of southern pygmy perch meant they captured less prey in Myriophyllum. These results demonstrate habitat structure can influence multiple predator effects, and support the mechanism of increased prey refuge in more structurally complex macrophytes.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Warfe, DM and Barmuta, LA
Keywords: Macrophyte structure Multiple predators Non-additivity Predator, predator interactions Habitat complexity Community ecology Refuge
Journal or Publication Title: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s00442-004-1644-x
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