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A generalized functional response for predators that switch between multiple prey species
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics. Int Inst Appl Syst Anal, Evolut & Ecol Program, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria.
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Theoretical Biology, ISSN 0022-5193, E-ISSN 1095-8541, Vol. 328, 89-98 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We develop a theory for the food intake of a predator that can switch between multiple prey species. The theory addresses empirical observations of prey switching and is based on the behavioural assumption that a predator tends to continue feeding on prey that are similar to the prey it has consumed last, in terms of, e.g., their morphology, defences, location, habitat choice, or behaviour. From a predator's dietary history and the assumed similarity relationship among prey species, we derive a general closed-form multi-species functional response for describing predators switching between multiple prey species. Our theory includes the Holling type II functional response as a special case and makes consistent predictions when populations of equivalent prey are aggregated or split. An analysis of the derived functional response enables us to highlight the following five main findings. (1) Prey switching leads to an approximate power-law relationship between ratios of prey abundance and prey intake, consistent with experimental data. (2) In agreement with empirical observations, the theory predicts an upper limit of 2 for the exponent of such power laws. (3) Our theory predicts deviations from power-law switching at very low and very high prey-abundance ratios. (4) The theory can predict the diet composition of a predator feeding on multiple prey species from diet observations for predators feeding only on pairs of prey species. (5) Predators foraging on more prey species will show less pronounced prey switching than predators foraging on fewer prey species, thus providing a natural explanation for the known difficulties of observing prey switching in the field. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London, England: Elsevier, 2013. Vol. 328, 89-98 p.
National Category
Other Mathematics Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-73554DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2013.02.003ISI: 000318960200010OAI: diva2:632957
Available from: 2013-06-25 Created: 2013-06-25 Last updated: 2013-06-25Bibliographically approved

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Brännström, Åke
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Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
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