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Behaviourally mediated indirect effects: Interference competition increases predation mortality in foraging redshanks

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Author(s)

Jeroen Minderman, J Lind, Will Cresswell

School/Research organisations

Abstract

The effect of competition for a limiting resource on the population dynamics of competitors is usually assumed to operate directly through starvation, yet may also affect survival indirectly through behaviourally mediated effects that affect risk of predation. Thus, competition can affect more than two trophic levels, and we aim here to provide an example of this.

We show that the foraging success of redshanks Tringa totanus (L.) foraging on active prey was highest in the front of flocks, whereas this was not the case for redshanks foraging on inactive prey. Also, when foraging on active prey, foraging success in a flock decreased as more birds passed through a patch, while overall foraging success was not lower on subsequent visits to the same patch. Thus, redshanks foraging on active prey suffered from interference competition, whereas this was not the case for redshanks foraging on inactive prey.

This interference competition led to differences in activity: redshanks attaining a lower foraging success had a higher walking rate. Greater activity was associated with wider flock spacing and shorter distances to cover, which has previously been shown to increase predation risk and mortality from sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus (L.).

We conclude that behavioural adaptations of prey species can lead to interference competition in foraging redshanks, and thus can affect their predation risk and mortality through increased activity. This study is one of the first to show how interference competition can be a mechanism for behaviourally mediated indirect effects, and provides further evidence for the suggestion that a single species occupying an intermediate trophic level may be simultaneously top-down controlled by a predator and bottom-up controlled by a behavioural response of its prey.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-723
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Volume75
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2006

    Research areas

  • activity, Orchestia, redshanks, top-down control, trophic levels, TRINGA-TOTANUS, INTRASPECIFIC COMPETITION, ANTIPREDATOR BEHAVIOR, SOUTHEAST SCOTLAND, FOOD AVAILABILITY, RAPTOR PREDATION, FEEDING LOCATION, RISK, PREY, CONSEQUENCES

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