A keystone effect for parasites in intraguild predation?

Melanie J Hatcher, Jaimie T.A Dick, Alison M Dunn

Abstract

Intraguild predation (IGP) is common in communities, yet theory suggests it should not often persist and coexistence of participating species should be rare. As parasitism can play keystone roles in interactions between competitors, and between predators and prey, here we examine the role of parasites in maintaining IGP. We used numerical exploration of population dynamic equations to determine coexistence and exclusion zones for two species engaged in IGP with shared parasitism. We demonstrate that parasitism increases the range of conditions leading to coexistence when the parasite exerts a greater deleterious effect on the ‘stronger’ species in terms of the combined effects of competition and predation. Such a parasite can enable an inferior competitor that is also the less predatory to persist, and may actually lead to numerical dominance of this species.

Footnotes

    • Received March 30, 2008.
    • Accepted June 18, 2008.
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