Effects of evolutionary changes in prey use on the relationship between food web complexity and stability

Wakako Yamaguchi, Michio Kondoh, Masakado Kawata

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The relationship between food web complexity and stability has been the subject of a long-standing debate in ecology. Although rapid changes in the food web structure through adaptive foraging behavior can confer stability to complex food webs, as reported by Kondoh (Science 299:1388-1391, 2003), the exact mechanisms behind this adaptation have not been specified in previous studies; thus, the applicability of such predictions to real ecosystems remains unclear. One mechanism of adaptive foraging is evolutionary change in genetically determined prey use. We constructed individual-based models of evolution of prey use by predators assuming explicit population genetics processes, and examined how this evolution affects the stability (i. e., the proportion of species that persist) of the food web and whether the complexity of the food web increased the stability of the prey-predator system. The analysis showed that the stability of food webs decreased with increasing complexity regardless of evolution of prey use by predators. The effects of evolution on stability differed depending on the assumptions made regarding genetic control of prey use. The probabilities of species extinctions were associated with the establishment or loss of trophic interactions via evolution of the predator, indicating a clear link between structural changes in the food web and community stability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-72
    Number of pages14
    JournalPopulation Ecology
    Volume53
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Keywords

    • Community stability
    • Food web evolution
    • Individual-based model
    • Prey-predator system
    • Trophic interaction

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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