Predator-prey interactions of dytiscids

Lauren E. Culler, Shin Ya Ohba, Patrick Crumrine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

46 Scopus citations


As conspicuous predators throughout ontogeny, dytiscids are central to freshwater food webs, particularly in lentic systems such as wetlands and ponds. Adult and larval dytiscids are considered to be generalists, feeding on zooplankton, aquatic invertebrates, larval amphibians, and fish, but some dytiscid species selectively feed on certain prey types relative to others. Selective predation, cannibalism, intraguild predation, and non-consumptive effects on prey are attributes of dytiscid feeding that are known to shape food web structure and composition and influence species coexistence. Larval and adult dytiscids are also predators of mosquito larvae and thus frequently investigated as potential agents for mosquito suppression, particularly in northern areas and in areas where mosquitoes vector diseases. The effects of dytiscid predation on food webs and mosquito populations are dependent on several abiotic and biotic conditions, including vegetation structure, habitat complexity, and temperature. Dytiscids are also food for other organisms. Odonate nymphs, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are known predators of dytiscids, although the extent to which these organisms rely on dytiscids for food remains unclear. Given the prominent role of dytiscids in freshwater food webs, future research should be aimed at improving basic knowledge of dytiscid feeding ecology, using dytiscids to test predator-prey and trophic theory, and examining how environmental change affects the role of dytiscids as predators of vector and nuisance species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEcology, Systematics, and the Natural History of Predaceous Diving Beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae)
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789401791090
ISBN (Print)9789401791083
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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