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Data from: Fear mediates trophic cascades: nonconsumptive effects of predators drive aquatic ecosystem function

Citation

Breviglieri, Crasso Paulo Bosco; Oliveira, Paulo S.; Romero, Gustavo Q. (2017), Data from: Fear mediates trophic cascades: nonconsumptive effects of predators drive aquatic ecosystem function, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2bq8g

Abstract

Predators control prey populations and influence communities and the functioning of ecosystems through a combination of consumptive and nonconsumptive effects. These effects can be locally confined to one ecosystem but can also be extended to neighboring ecosystems. In this study, we investigated the nonconsumptive effects of terrestrial avian predators on the communities of aquatic invertebrates inhabiting bromeliads and on the functioning of these natural ecosystems. Bromeliads with stuffed birds placed nearby showed a decrease in aquatic damselfly larvae abundance and biomass, and we can infer that these changes were caused by antipredator responses. These larvae, which are top predators in bromeliad ecosystems, changed the composition of the entire aquatic invertebrate community. While total species richness, mesopredator richness, and shredder abundance increased in the presence of birds, scraper biomass decreased, possibly as a consequence of the increase in mesopredator richness. High scraper biomass in the absence of birds may have accelerated detrital decomposition, making more nutrients available for bromeliads, which grew more. These results show that nonconsumptive effects triggered by terrestrial predators can cascade down to lower trophic levels and dramatically affect the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, which can in turn alter nutrient provision to terrestrial ecosystems.

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