Predator interactions, mesopredator release and biodiversity conservation

Ritchie, Euan G. and Johnson, Christopher N. 2009, Predator interactions, mesopredator release and biodiversity conservation, Ecology letters, vol. 12, no. 9, pp. 982-998.

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Title Predator interactions, mesopredator release and biodiversity conservation
Author(s) Ritchie, Euan G.
Johnson, Christopher N.
Journal name Ecology letters
Volume number 12
Issue number 9
Start page 982
End page 998
Total pages 17
Publisher Wiley - Blackwell
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2009
ISSN 1461-023X
1461-0248
Keyword(s) Carnivore
trophic cascade
risk effects
predation
landscape of fear
interspecific killing
foraging behaviour
extinction
distribution and abundance
competition
Summary There is growing recognition of the important roles played by predators in regulating ecosystems and sustaining biodiversity. Much attention has focused on the consequences of predator-regulation of herbivore populations, and associated trophic cascades. However apex predators may also control smaller ‘mesopredators’ through intraguild interactions. Removal of apex predators can result in changes to intraguild interactions and outbreaks of mesopredators (‘mesopredator release’), leading in turn to increased predation on smaller prey. Here we provide a review and synthesis of studies of predator interactions, mesopredator release and their impacts on biodiversity. Mesopredator suppression by apex predators is widespread geographically and taxonomically. Apex predators suppress mesopredators both by killing them, or instilling fear, which motivates changes in behaviour and habitat use that limit mesopredator distribution and abundance. Changes in the abundance of apex predators may have disproportionate (up to fourfold) effects on mesopredator abundance. Outcomes of interactions between predators may however vary with resource availability, habitat complexity and the complexity of predator communities. There is potential for the restoration of apex predators to have benefits for biodiversity conservation through moderation of the impacts of mesopredators on their prey, but this requires a whole-ecosystem view to avoid unforeseen negative effects.

‘Nothing has changed since I began.

My eye has permitted no change.

I am going to keep things like this.’

From ‘Hawk Roosting’, by Ted Hughes.
Language eng
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30039763

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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