Trait-mediated interactions: influence of prey size, density and experience
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1. The role of non-consumptive predator effects in structuring ecological communities has become an important area of study for ecologists. Numerous studies have shown that adaptive changes in prey in response to a predator can improve survival in subsequent encounters with that predator. 2. Prey-mediated changes in the shapes of predators' functional response surfaces determine the qualitative predictions of theoretical models. However, few studies have quantified the effects of adaptive prey responses on the shape of predator functional responses. 3. This study explores how prey density, size and previous predator experience interact to change the functional response curves of different-sized predators. 4. We use a response surface design to determine how previous exposure to small or large odonate predators affected the short-term survival of squirrel tree frog (Hyla squirella) tadpoles across a range of sizes and densities (i.e. the shape of odonate functional response curves). 5. Predator-induced tadpoles in a given size class did not differ in shape, although induction changed tadpole behaviour significantly. Induced tadpoles survived better in lethal encounters with either predator than did similar-sized predator-naive tadpoles. 6. Induction by either predator resulted in increased survival with both predators at a given size. However, different mechanisms led to increased survival for induced tadpoles. Attack rate for the small predators, whereas handling time increased for the large predators.
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