Data from: Non-consumptive effects of a top-predator decrease the strength of the trophic cascade in a four-level terrestrial food web
Bestion, Elvire; Cucherousset, Julien; Teyssier, Aimeric; Cote, Julien (2015), Data from: Non-consumptive effects of a top-predator decrease the strength of the trophic cascade in a four-level terrestrial food web, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7577v
The fear of predators can strongly impact food web dynamics and ecosystem functioning through effects on herbivores morphology, physiology or behaviour. While non-consumptive predator effects have been mostly studied in three-level food chains, we lack evidence for the propagation of non-consumptive indirect effects of apex predators in four level food-webs, notably in terrestrial ecosystems. In experimental mesocosms, we manipulated a four-level food chain including top-predator cues (snakes), mesopredators (lizards), herbivores (crickets), and primary producers (plants). The strength of the trophic cascade induced by mesopredators through the consumption of herbivores decreased in the presence of top-predator cues. Specifically, primary production was higher in mesocosms where mesopredators were present relative to mesocosms with herbivores only, and this difference was reduced in presence of top-predator cues, probably through a trait-mediated effect on lizard foraging. Our study demonstrates that non-consumptive effects of predation risk can cascade down to affect both herbivores and plants in a four-level terrestrial food chain and emphasises the need to quantify the importance of such indirect effects in natural communities.