The anatomy of predator-prey dynamics in a changing climate

Christopher C. Wilmers, Eric Post, Alan Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

1. Humans are increasingly influencing global climate and regional predator assemblages, yet a mechanistic understanding of how climate and predation interact to affect fluctuations in prey populations is currently lacking. 2. Here we develop a modelling framework to explore the effects of different predation strategies on the response of age-structured prey populations to a changing climate. 3. We show that predation acts in opposition to temporal correlation in climatic conditions to suppress prey population fluctuations. 4. Ambush predators such as lions are shown to be more effective at suppressing fluctuations in their prey than cursorial predators such as wolves, which chase down prey over long distances, because they are more effective predators on prime-aged adults. 5. We model climate as a Markov process and explore the consequences of future changes in climatic autocorrelation for population dynamics. We show that the presence of healthy predator populations will be particularly important in dampening prey population fluctuations if temporal correlation in climatic conditions increases in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1044
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Volume76
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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