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Predator water balance alters intraguild predation in a streamside food web

Leinbach, Israel L., McCluney, Kevin E., Sabo, John L.
Ecology 2019 v.100 no.4 pp. e02635
Araneae, Orthoptera, animals, energy, energy content, field experimentation, food webs, global change, males, predation, predators, water content, water stress
Previous work suggests that animal water balance can influence trophic interactions, with predators increasing their consumption of water‐laden prey to meet water demands. But it is unclear how the need for water interacts with the need for energy to drive trophic interactions under shifting conditions. Using manipulative field experiments, we show that water balance influences the effects of top predators on prey with contrasting ratios of water and energy, altering the frequency of intraguild predation. Water‐stressed top predators (large spiders) negatively affect water‐laden basal prey (crickets), especially male prey with higher water content, whereas alleviation of water limitation causes top predators to switch to negatively affecting energy‐rich midlevel predators (small spiders). Thus, the relative water and energy content of multiple prey, combined with the water demand of the top predator, influences trophic interactions in ways that can alter the strength of intraguild predation. These findings underscore the need for integration of multiresource approaches for understanding implications of global change for food webs.