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Adaptive omnivory and species coexistence in tri-trophic food webs
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
2005 (English)In: Theoretical Population Biology, Vol. 67, no 2, 85-99 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The commonness of omnivory in natural communities is puzzling, because simple dynamic models of tri-trophic systems with omnivory are prone to species extinction. In particular, the intermediate consumer is frequently excluded by the omnivore at high levels of enrichment. It has been suggested that adaptive foraging by the omnivore may facilitate coexistence, because the intermediate consumer should persist more easily if it is occasionally dropped from the omnivore's diet. We explore theoretically how species permanence in tri-trophic systems is affected if the omnivore forages adaptively according to the "diet rule", i.e., feeds on the less profitable of its two prey species only if the more profitable one is sufficiently rare. We show that, compared to systems where omnivory is fixed, adaptive omnivory may indeed facilitate 3-species persistence. Counter to intuition, however, facilitation of 3-species coexistence requires that the intermediate consumer is a more profitable prey than the basal resource. Consequently, adaptive omnivory does not facilitate persistence of the intermediate consumer but enlarges the persistence region of the omnivore towards parameter space where a fixed omnivore would be excluded by the intermediate consumer. Overall, the positive effect of adaptive omnivory on 3-species persistence is, however, small. Generally, whether omnivory is fixed or adaptive, 3-species permanence is most likely when profitability (= conversion efficiency into omnivores) is low for basal resources and high for intermediate consumers. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 67, no 2, 85-99 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-31480ISI: 000227410000002ISBN: 0040-5809OAI: diva2:293188
Available from: 2010-02-10 Created: 2010-02-10 Last updated: 2010-02-10

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