Predation

Predation is ubiquitous. All heterotrophic organisms are prey for others at some stage of their life cycles, and many species encounter predation risk throughout their lives. The potential effects of predation are diverse, and include reduction in abundance or even the elimination of a species from a region, restrictions on habitat use and foraging efficiency that affect growth rates and reduce fitness, and adaptation via natural selection to persistent predation risk. Top predators can cause a potential cascade of interactions through the trophic web, directly affecting prey by reducing their abundance and changing their foraging behavior, and indirectly influencing additional species to which the prey are linked as food or competitors. Furthermore, changes in energy pathways and species composition may have consequences for nutrient utilization and regeneration. We first consider the predator-prey linkage as an interaction between individuals that has effects on populations, directly through consumption and mortality, and indirectly through behavioral and morphological adaptations that may entail some fitness cost to the prey in order to survive. We then examine how predation can trigger trophic cascades that have consequences for the entire ecosystem.

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