Thursday, 22 October 2015

Invasive species as junk food for predators

Native prey necessary for predators to stay healthy and prosper

Date:October 14, 2015
Source:Ohio State University

If there's an upshot to the appearance of invasive species, it's that they might provide an additional food source for the native animals whose territory they are invading.

But a new analysis of scientific studies spanning more than two decades has revealed that predators benefit most from eating invasive prey only if their traditional food sources remain intact--that is, if they are able to maintain their usual diet and eat invaders only as an occasional snack.

For a study in the journal Ecology Letters, researchers reviewed 109 studies covering the interactions of 47 different prey species and 93 predator species. They discovered that predator populations increased as much as 57 percent after an invasion of new prey--but only when native prey remained abundant.

Lauren Pintor, study co-author and assistant professor of aquatic ecology at The Ohio State University, suspects that invasive prey don't provide predators with the best nourishment.

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