Journal of Animal Ecology, May 2012, Vol.81(3), pp.516-523
Model analyses show that the stability of population dynamics and food web persistence increase with the strength of interference competition. Despite this critical importance for community stability, little is known about how external factors such as the environmental temperature affect intraspecific interference competition. We aimed to fill this void by studying the functional responses of two ground beetle species of different body size, and . These functional response experiments were replicated across four predator densities and two temperatures to address the impact of temperature on intraspecific interference competition. We generally expected that warming should increase the speed of movement, encounter rates and in consequence interference among predator individuals. In our experiment, this expectation was supported by the results obtained for the larger predator, , whereas the opposite pattern characterized the interference behaviour of the smaller predator These results suggest potentially nontrivial implications for the effects of environmental temperature on intraspecific interference competition, for which we propose an explanation based on the different sensitivity to warming of metabolic rates of both species. As expected, increasing temperature led to stronger interference competition of the larger species, , which exhibited a weaker increase in metabolic rate with increasing temperature. The stronger increase in the metabolic rate of the smaller predator, , had to be compensated by increasing searching activity for prey, which did not leave time for increasing interference. Together, these results suggest that any generalization how interference competition responds to warming should also take the species’ metabolic response to temperature increases into account.
Food Webs ; Functional Responses ; Global Warming ; Interaction Strength ; Metabolic Rates