Size structure and substitutability in an odonate intraguild predation system

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Interactions between different size classes of predator species have the potential to influence survival of prey species in intraguild predation (IGP) systems, but few studies test for these effects. Using a substitutive design in a field setting, I measured the effects of two size classes of IG predators (large and small larvae of the dragonfly Anax junius) on the mortality of IG prey (larvae of the dragonfly Pachydiplax longipennis). I also examined whether combinations of large A. junius and P. longipennis and small A. junius and P. longipennis had substitutable effects on shared prey (larvae of the damselfly Ischnura verticalis). The presence of both size classes of A. junius, when alone and in combination with P. longipennis, significantly increased mortality of I. verticalis. In the presence of P. longipennis, large and small A. junius had similar effects on the mortality of I. verticalis, and effects of size-structured assemblages of A. junius were similar to the effects of each size class alone at the same density. The effects of the two size classes of A. junius on P. longipennis differed, and P. longipennis mortality was lower when exposed to size structured assemblages of A. junius than when exposed to only large A. junius at the same density. Results were similar to those in a laboratory study, although the effect of P. longipennis on I. verticalis was much lower in the field setting. These results demonstrate that interactions between different size classes of IG predators promote the survival of IG prey and highlight the importance of within-species size structure as a characteristic that may promote the coexistence of predators in IGP systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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