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Habitat structural complexity mediates the foraging success of multiple predator species


Warfe, DM and Barmuta, LA, Habitat structural complexity mediates the foraging success of multiple predator species, Oecologia, 141, (1) pp. 171-178. ISSN 0029-8549 (2004) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00442-004-1644-x


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. © Springer-Verlag 2004.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Freshwater ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Warfe, DM (Dr Danielle Warfe)
UTAS Author:Barmuta, LA (Associate Professor Leon Barmuta)
ID Code:31801
Year Published:2004
Web of Science® Times Cited:280
Deposited By:TAFI - Zoology
Deposited On:2004-08-01
Last Modified:2007-10-11

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