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As temperature increases, predator attack rate is more important to survival than a smaller window of prey vulnerability

Pepi, Adam, Grof‐Tisza, Patrick, Holyoak, Marcel, Karban, Richard
Ecology 2018 v.99 no.7 pp. 1584-1590
Arctia, Formica, body size, community structure, field experimentation, global warming, insect larvae, laboratory experimentation, models, predation, predator-prey relationships, temperature
Climate change can have strong effects on species interactions and community structure. Temperature‐dependent effects on predator–prey interactions are a major mechanism through which these effects occur. To understand the net effects of predator attack rates and dynamic windows of prey vulnerability, we examined the impacts of temperature on the interaction of a caterpillar (Arctia virginalis) and its ant predator (Formica lasioides). We conducted field experiments to examine attack rates on caterpillars relative to temperature, ant abundance, and body size, and laboratory experiments to determine the effects of temperature on caterpillar growth. We modeled temperature‐dependent survival based on the integrated effects of temperature‐dependent growth and temperature‐ and size‐dependent predation. Attack rates on caterpillars increased with warming and ant recruitment, but decreased with caterpillar size. Caterpillar growth rates increased with temperature, narrowing the window of vulnerability. The model predicted that net caterpillar survival would decrease with temperature, suggesting that A. virginalis populations could be depressed with future climate warming. Theoretical work suggests that the net outcome of predator–prey interactions with increasing temperature depends on the respective responses of interacting species in terms of velocity across space, whereas the present study suggests the importance of effects of temperature on prey window of vulnerability, or “velocity” across time.