Multitrophic diversity effects depend on consumer specialization and species-specific growth and grazing rates

Filip, Joanna, Bauer, Barbara, Hillebrand, Helmut, Beniermann, Anna, Gaedke, Ursula and Moorthi, Stefanie D. (2014) Multitrophic diversity effects depend on consumer specialization and species-specific growth and grazing rates Oikos, 123 (8). pp. 912-922. DOI 10.1111/oik.01219.

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Abstract

Ecosystem functioning is affected by horizontal (within trophic groups) and vertical (across trophic levels) biodiversity. Theory predicts that the effects of vertical biodiversity depend on consumer specialization. In a microcosm experiment, we investigated ciliate consumer diversity and specialization effects on algal prey biovolume, evenness and composition, and on ciliate biovolume production. The experimental data was complemented by a process-based model further analyzing the ecological mechanisms behind the observed diversity effects. Overall, increasing consumer diversity had no significant effect on prey biovolume or evenness. However, consumer specialization affected the prey community. Specialist consumers showed a stronger negative impact on prey biovolume and evenness than generalists. The model confirmed that this pattern was mainly driven by a single specialist with a high per capita grazing rate, consuming the two most productive prey species. When these were suppressed, the prey assemblage became dominated by a less productive species, consequently decreasing prey biovolume and evenness. Consumer diversity increased consumer biovolume, which was stronger for generalists than for specialists and highest in mixed combinations, indicating that consumer functional diversity, i.e. more diverse feeding strategies, increased resource use efficiency. Overall, our results indicate that consumer diversity effects on prey and consumers strongly depend on species-specific growth and grazing rates, which may be at least equally important as consumer specialization in driving consumer diversity effects across trophic levels.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000340664700003
Keywords: TROPHIC-LEVEL BIOMASS; FOOD-WEB; FUNCTIONAL-ROLE; BIODIVERSITY; PREY; RICHNESS; IDENTITY; STABILITY; COMMUNITIES; CONSTRAINTS
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1111/oik.01219
ISSN: 0030-1299
Projects: AQUASHIFT
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2014 12:45
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2017 13:38
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/25661

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