CIE Spotlight: Crying wolf: limitations of predator–prey studies need not preclude their salient messages

Euan R.

Euan R.

Authors: Euan G. Ritchie, Jannik Schultner, Dale G. Nimmo, Joern Fischer, Jan Hanspach, Tobias Kuemmerle, Laura Kehoe, Ine Dorresteijn

Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Volume 283, issue 1834, 13 July 2016

Brief summary of the paper: A rapidly growing body of the literature reveals the important roles apex predators play in shaping the composition and functioning of ecological communities worldwide.

The principal effects of apex predators — namely herbivore and mesopredator population suppression — are often evident following their removal from environments, or their reintroduction, including rewilding initiatives. What remains less clear, however, is to what extent humans versus other apex predators affect ecosystems, how both interact across gradients of anthropogenic pressure and how such interactions can be affected by underlying bottom-up processes.

Such questions are critical to answer in the Anthropocene, where effective management of ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity requires a better understanding of how top-down and bottom-up processes vary according to anthropogenic influences.