Title

The impact of extirpation and reintroduction of a size-structured predator on trophic cascades

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Dr. Howard Whiteman

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract/Description

Top predators play a significant role in structuring ecosystems. Removal of these predators can trigger trophic cascades with potentially catastrophic ecological and economic consequences. Predator populations with strong body size variation often experience cannibalism or intraguild predation, which reduces predation pressure on lower trophic levels and alters trophic cascade strength. Numerous theoretical studies have established links between body size and trophic cascades, but further empirical work is needed to determine the effects of body size on trophic cascades, particularly following the extirpation or reintroduction of top predators. I hypothesize that greater predator body size variation will lead to weaker trophic cascades and biological communities less sensitive to changes in the predator population while predator populations with similar body sizes will lead to stronger trophic cascades and a community more sensitive to predator introduction or extirpation. Experimental pond communities with size-structured populations of mole salamanders, Ambystoma talpoideum, as the top predator will be constructed to test these hypotheses.

Location

Barkley Room, Curris Center

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

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Apr 20th, 9:00 AM Apr 20th, 4:00 PM

The impact of extirpation and reintroduction of a size-structured predator on trophic cascades

Barkley Room, Curris Center

Top predators play a significant role in structuring ecosystems. Removal of these predators can trigger trophic cascades with potentially catastrophic ecological and economic consequences. Predator populations with strong body size variation often experience cannibalism or intraguild predation, which reduces predation pressure on lower trophic levels and alters trophic cascade strength. Numerous theoretical studies have established links between body size and trophic cascades, but further empirical work is needed to determine the effects of body size on trophic cascades, particularly following the extirpation or reintroduction of top predators. I hypothesize that greater predator body size variation will lead to weaker trophic cascades and biological communities less sensitive to changes in the predator population while predator populations with similar body sizes will lead to stronger trophic cascades and a community more sensitive to predator introduction or extirpation. Experimental pond communities with size-structured populations of mole salamanders, Ambystoma talpoideum, as the top predator will be constructed to test these hypotheses.