Intra- and interspecific density-dependent dispersal in an aquatic prey-predator system

Abstract : Dispersal intensity is a key process for the persistence of prey–predator metacommunities. Consequently, knowledge of the ecological mechanisms of dispersal is fundamental to understanding the dynamics of these communities. Dispersal is often considered to occur at a constant per capita rate; however, some experiments demonstrated that dispersal may be a function of local species density. Here we use aquatic experimental microcosms under controlled conditions to explore intra- and interspecific density-dependent dispersal in two protists, a prey Tetrahymena pyriformis and its predator Dileptus sp. We observed intraspecific density-dependent dispersal for the prey and interspecific density-dependent dispersal for both the prey and the predator. Decreased prey density lead to an increase in predator dispersal, while prey dispersal increased with predator density. Additional experiments suggest that the prey is able to detect its predator through chemical cues and to modify its dispersal behaviour accordingly. Density-dependent dispersal suggests that regional processes depend on local community dynamics. We discuss the potential consequences of density-dependent dispersal on metacommunity dynamics and stability.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 9, 2007 - 10:46:39 AM
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Céline Hauzy, Florence Hulot, Audrey Gins, Michel Loreau. Intra- and interspecific density-dependent dispersal in an aquatic prey-predator system. Journal of Animal Ecology, Wiley, 2007, 76, pp.552-558. ⟨bioemco-00176014⟩

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