Inducible defenses and trophic structure

Matthijs Vos, Antonie M. Verschoor, Bob W. Kooi, Felix L. Wäckers, Donald L. DeAngelis, Wolf M. Mooij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Resource edibility is a crucial factor in ecological theory on the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down control. Current theory explains trophic structure in terms of the relative abundance and succession of edible and inedible species across gradients of primary productivity. We argue that this explanation is incomplete owing to its focus on inedibility and the assumption that plants and herbivores have fixed defense levels. Consumer-induced defenses are an important source of variation in the vulnerability of prey and are prevalent in natural communities. Such induced defenses decrease per capita consumption rates of consumers but hardly ever result in complete inedibility. When defenses are inducible a prey population may consist of both undefended and defended individuals. Here we use food chain models with realistic parameter values to show that variation in consumption rates on different prey types causes a gradual instead of stepwise increase in the biomass of all trophic levels in response to enrichment. Such all-level responses have been observed in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and in microbial food chains in the laboratory. We stress that, in addition to the known food web effects of interspecific variation in edibility, intraspecific variation in edibility is another form of within-trophic-level heterogeneity that also has such effects. We conclude that inducible defenses increase the relative importance of bottom-up control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2783-2794
Number of pages12
JournalEcology
Volume85
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

Fingerprint

trophic structure
food chain
interspecific variation
food webs
primary productivity
herbivores
trophic level
biomass
bottom-up control
top-down control
ecological theory
intraspecific variation
terrestrial ecosystem
aquatic ecosystem
food web
relative abundance
herbivore
vulnerability
defence
trophic levels

Keywords

  • Biomass responses
  • Bottom-up control
  • Edibility
  • Enrichment
  • Food chain
  • Food web
  • Infochemicals
  • Multitrophic interactions
  • Primary productivity
  • Top-down control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Vos, M., Verschoor, A. M., Kooi, B. W., Wäckers, F. L., DeAngelis, D. L., & Mooij, W. M. (2004). Inducible defenses and trophic structure. Ecology, 85(10), 2783-2794.

Inducible defenses and trophic structure. / Vos, Matthijs; Verschoor, Antonie M.; Kooi, Bob W.; Wäckers, Felix L.; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Mooij, Wolf M.

In: Ecology, Vol. 85, No. 10, 01.10.2004, p. 2783-2794.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Vos, M, Verschoor, AM, Kooi, BW, Wäckers, FL, DeAngelis, DL & Mooij, WM 2004, 'Inducible defenses and trophic structure', Ecology, vol. 85, no. 10, pp. 2783-2794.
Vos M, Verschoor AM, Kooi BW, Wäckers FL, DeAngelis DL, Mooij WM. Inducible defenses and trophic structure. Ecology. 2004 Oct 1;85(10):2783-2794.
Vos, Matthijs ; Verschoor, Antonie M. ; Kooi, Bob W. ; Wäckers, Felix L. ; DeAngelis, Donald L. ; Mooij, Wolf M. / Inducible defenses and trophic structure. In: Ecology. 2004 ; Vol. 85, No. 10. pp. 2783-2794.
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