Main content area

Turbidity-induced changes in emergent effects of multiple predators with different foraging strategies

VanLandeghem, Matthew M., Carey, Michael P., Wahl, David H.
Ecology of freshwater fish 2011 v.20 no.2 pp. 279-286
Esox, Lepomis macrochirus, Micropterus salmoides, bass, foraging, predators, risk, risk reduction, turbidity
- In natural systems, prey frequently interact with multiple predators and the outcome often cannot be predicted by summing the effects of individual predator species. Multiple predator interactions can create emergent effects for prey, but how those change across environmental gradients is poorly understood. Turbidity is an environmental factor in aquatic systems that may influence multiple predator effects on prey. Interactions between a cruising predator (largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides) and an ambush predator (muskellunge Esox masquinongy) and their combination foraging on a shared prey (bluegill Lepomis macrochirus) were examined across a turbidity gradient. Turbidity modified multiple predator effects on prey. In clear water, combined predators consumed in total more prey than expected from individual predator treatments, suggesting risk enhancement for prey. In moderately turbid water, the predators consumed fewer prey together than expected, suggesting a risk reduction for prey. At high turbidity, there were no apparent emergent effects; however, the cruising predator consumed more prey than the ambush predator, suggesting an advantage for this predator. Understanding multiple predator traits across a gradient of turbidity increases our understanding of how complex natural systems function.