Evidence for individualistic species assembly creating convergent predator:prey ratios among pond invertebrate communities

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1. Predator:prey ratios are cited as examples of a community level pattern, which suggests underlying assembly rules. Consistent ratios may result from either holistic community interactions or individualistic species assembly. This study tested for evidence of holistic or individualistic explanations for the predator:prey ratios among invertebrate communities of temporary ponds. 2. Macroinvertebrate species were recorded from 30 adjacent experimental ponds, in January and early summer over 4 years. After the first 2 years either additional predatory or prey taxa were added to treatment ponds to skew the natural predator:prey ratios. Species richness and ratios were monitored for the following 2 years comparing treatment ponds subject to augmented predator or prey richness against unmanipulated control ponds. 3. The majority of species added to treatments established in their respective ponds initially creating unusually high or low predator:prey ratios. In the 2 years following manipulation the ratios in treatment and control ponds converged. The convergence resulted from the spread of the additional species across all the ponds rather than acquisition or extinction of species within treatment ponds compensating for the skewed ratios. 4. Convergent predator:prey ratios resulted from the spread of the augmented local species pool across the site rather than holistic community level adjustment within separate ponds. The results support individualistic models of community assembly as the explanation for convergent predator:prey ratios in pond habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002


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