Ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey role reversal : Allee effect and catastrophic predator extinction

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Lehtinen , S 2021 , ' Ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey role reversal : Allee effect and catastrophic predator extinction ' , Journal of Theoretical Biology , vol. 510 , 110542 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2020.110542

Title: Ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey role reversal : Allee effect and catastrophic predator extinction
Author: Lehtinen, Sami
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Date: 2021-02-07
Language: eng
Number of pages: 15
Belongs to series: Journal of Theoretical Biology
ISSN: 0022-5193
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/324430
Abstract: In many terrestrial, marine, and freshwater predator-prey communities, young predators can be vulnerable to attacks by large prey. Frequent prey counter-attacks may hinder the persistence of predators. Despite the commonness of such role reversals in nature, they have rarely been addressed in evolutionary modelling. To understand how role reversals affect ecological and evolutionary dynamics of a predator-prey community, we derived an ecological model from individual-level processes using ordinary differential equations. The model reveals complex ecological dynamics, with possible bistability between alternative coexistence states and an Allee effect for the predators. We find that when prey counter-attacks are frequent, cannibalism is necessary for predator persistence. Using numerical analysis, we also find that a sudden ecological shift from coexistence to predator extinction can occur through several catastrophic bifurcations, including ‘saddle-node’, ‘homoclinic’, and ‘subcritical Hopf’. The analysis of single-species evolution reveals that predator selection towards increasing or decreasing cannibalism triggers a catastrophic shift towards an extinction state of the predators. Such an evolutionary extinction of the predators may also be caused by prey selection towards increasing foraging activity because it facilitates encounters with vulnerable, young predators. The analysis of predator-prey coevolution further demonstrates that predator’s catastrophic extinction becomes an even more likely outcome than in single-species evolution. Our results suggest that when young predators are vulnerable to prey attacks, a sudden extinction of the predators may be more common than currently understood.
Subject: 111 Mathematics
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Adaptive dynamics
Bifurcation
Coevolution
Ecological bistability
Catastrophic shifts
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