Size matters: body size determines functional responses of ground beetle interactions

Ball, S.L.; Woodcock, B.A. ORCID:; Potts, S.G.; Heard, M.S.. 2015 Size matters: body size determines functional responses of ground beetle interactions. Basic and Applied Ecology, 16 (7). 621-628.

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Understanding patterns in predator:prey systems and the mechanisms that underlie trophic interactions provides a basis for predicting community structure and the delivery of natural pest control services. The functional response of predators to prey density is a fundamental measure of interaction strength and its characterisation is essential to understanding these processes. We used mesocosm experiments to quantify the functional responses of five ground beetle species that represent common generalist predators of north-west European arable agriculture. We investigated two mechanisms predicted to be key drivers of trophic interactions in natural communities: predator:prey body size ratio and multiple predator effects. Our results show regularities in foraging patterns characteristic of similarly sized predators. Ground beetle attack rates increased and handling times decreased as the predator:prey body-mass ratio rose. Multiple predator effects on total prey consumption rates were sensitive to the identity of the interacting species but not prey density. The extent of interspecific interactions may be a result of differences in body mass between competing beetle species. Overall these results add to the growing evidence for the importance of size in determining trophic interactions and suggest that body mass could offer a focus on which to base the management of natural enemy assemblages.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1439-1791
Additional Keywords: predator:prey, functional response, attack rate, handling time, multiple predator effects, body mass ratio, natural pest control, Carabidae
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 03 Sep 2015 13:29 +0 (UTC)

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