Inducible Defenses in Food Webs

Matthijs Vos, Bob W. Kooi, Don L. De Angelis, Wolf M. Mooij

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


This chapter reviews the predicted effects of induced defenses on trophic structure and two aspects of stability, "local" stability and persistence, as well as presenting novel results on a third, resilience. Food webs are structures of populations in a given location organized according to their predator-prey interactions. Interaction strengths and, therefore, prey defenses are generally recognized as important ecological factors affecting food webs. Despite this, surprisingly, little light has been shed on the food web-level consequences of inducible defenses. Inducible defenses occur in many taxa in both terrestrial and aquatic food webs. They include refuge use, reduced activity, adaptive life history changes, the production of toxins, synomones and extrafloral nectar, and the formation of colonies, helmets, thorns, or spines. In the chapter, theoretical results for the effects of inducible defenses on trophic structure and the three aspects of stability are reviewed. This is done, in part, using bifurcation analysis-a type of analysis that is applied to nonlinear dynamic systems described by a set of ordinary differential or difference equations. The work presented in the chapter suggests that heterogeneity, as caused by induced defenses in prey species, has major effects on the functioning of food webs. Inducible defenses occur in many species in both aquatic and terrestrial systems, and theoretical work indicates they have major effects on important food web properties such as trophic structure, local stability, persistence, and resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDynamic Food Webs
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780120884582
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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