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Toward a community ecology of landscapes: predicting multiple predator–prey interactions across geographic space

Schmitz, Oswald J., Miller, Jennifer R. B., Trainor, Anne M., Abrahms, Briana
Ecology 2017 v.98 no.9 pp. 2281-2292
animals, business enterprises, food webs, foraging, geographical distribution, habitats, home range, landscapes, predation, predator-prey relationships, predators, prediction, statistical analysis
Community ecology was traditionally an integrative science devoted to studying interactions between species and their abiotic environments in order to predict species’ geographic distributions and abundances. Yet for philosophical and methodological reasons, it has become divided into two enterprises: one devoted to local experimentation on species interactions to predict community dynamics; the other devoted to statistical analyses of abiotic and biotic information to describe geographic distribution. Our goal here is to instigate thinking about ways to reconnect the two enterprises and thereby return to a tradition to do integrative science. We focus specifically on the community ecology of predators and prey, which is ripe for integration. This is because there is active, simultaneous interest in experimentally resolving the nature and strength of predator–prey interactions as well as explaining patterns across landscapes and seascapes. We begin by describing a conceptual theory rooted in classical analyses of non‐spatial food web modules used to predict species interactions. We show how such modules can be extended to consideration of spatial context using the concept of habitat domain. Habitat domain describes the spatial extent of habitat space that predators and prey use while foraging, which differs from home range, the spatial extent used by an animal to meet all of its daily needs. This conceptual theory can be used to predict how different spatial relations of predators and prey could lead to different emergent multiple predator–prey interactions such as whether predator consumptive or non‐consumptive effects should dominate, and whether intraguild predation, predator interference or predator complementarity are expected. We then review the literature on studies of large predator–prey interactions that make conclusions about the nature of multiple predator–prey interactions. This analysis reveals that while many studies provide sufficient information about predator or prey spatial locations, and thus meet necessary conditions of the habitat domain conceptual theory for drawing conclusions about the nature of the predator–prey interactions, several studies do not. We therefore elaborate how modern technology and statistical approaches for animal movement analysis could be used to test the conceptual theory, using experimental or quasi‐experimental analyses at landscape scales.