Provision of essential resources as a persistence strategy in food webs

10.24072/pcjournal.315 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e82.

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Pairwise interactions in food webs, including those between predator and prey are often modulated by a third species. Such higher-order interactions are important structural components of natural food webs that can increase the stability of communities against perturbations and ensure continued ecosystem functioning. Particularly the flux of rare organic and inorganic compounds that are essential to species in the community can create higher-order interactions. Even though many such compounds exist, their effect on structuring communities is little understood. In this study, I perform invasion analyses on a general food web model that depicts apparent and exploitative competition. Introducing the provision of essential resources by a prey species to either its competitor or its predator as a higher-order interaction, I find that this mechanism can ensure the focal prey’s persistence. Larger dietary essentiality, i.e. a stronger dependence of the predator or the competitor on the essential resource can increase the invasion growth rate of the focal prey to positive values, thus promoting its persistence when it would go extinct for low essentiality. This research shows that essential resources and the higher-order interactions created by them should be considered in community ecology.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.315
Keywords: Higher-order interaction, Food webs, Food quality, Coexistence, Invasibility
Raatz, Michael 1

1 Department of Theoretical Biology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Raatz, Michael. Provision of essential resources as a persistence strategy in food webs. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e82. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.315.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.ecology.100527

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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