How predator incursions affect critical patch size: The role of the functional response

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39 Scopus citations


Understanding the impact of habitat edges provides a key to deciphering how community dynamics change as functions of habitat structure and spatial scale. Motivated by studies of predation on bird nests in forest fragments and other cases of "cross-boundary subsidies," we present results from a partial differential equation model in which a patch-resident prey species suffers incidental mortality from a generalist predator species residing in the surrounding matrix habitat. We demonstrate that predator intrusions have the potential to induce critical patch size effects for the prey species, even when the prey's dynamics would otherwise preclude such effects. We also demonstrate that the existence of critical patch size effects depends on the functional response of the predator, with Lotka-Volterra and Type II functional responses generating the effect (but not Type III). We conclude by discussing how predator-induced critical patch size effects can influence opportunities for regionwide persistence of the prey by altering the fraction and spatial distribution of meaningful patches within a metapopulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-375
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Edge effects
  • Generalist predators
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Incidental predation
  • Metapopulation dynamics
  • Spatial subsidies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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