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Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2020

Evolution of Predator Foraging in Response to Prey Infection Favors Species Coexistence

Abstract

Abstract As acknowledged by Optimal Foraging theories, predator diets depend on prey profitability. Parasites, ubiquitous in food webs, are known to affect simultaneously host vulnerability to predation and host energy contents, thereby affecting profitability. In this work, we study the eco-evolutionary consequences of prey infection by a non trophically-transmitted parasite, with a simple lifecycle, on predator diet. We also analyze the consequences for coexistence between prey, predators and parasites. We model a trophic module with one predator and two prey species, one of these prey being infected by a parasite, and distinguish between two effects of infection: a decrease in host fecundity (virulence effect) and an increase in vulnerability to predation (facilitation effect). Predator foraging may evolve toward specialist or generalist strategies, the latter being less efficient on a given resource. We show that the virulence effect leads to specialisation on the non-infected prey while the facilitation effect, by increasing prey profitability, favors specialisation on the infected prey. Combining the two effects at intermediate intensities promotes either generalist predators or the diversification of foraging strategies (coexistence of specialists), depending of trade-off shape. We then investigate how the evolution of predator diet affects the niche overlap between predator and parasite. We show that facilitation effects systematically lead to a high niche overlap, ultimately resulting in the loss of the parasite. Virulence effects conversely favor coexistence by allowing a separation of the predator and parasite niches.

Dates and versions

hal-03990290 , version 1 (15-02-2023)

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Loïc Prosnier, Vincent Médoc, Nicolas Loeuille. Evolution of Predator Foraging in Response to Prey Infection Favors Species Coexistence. 2023. ⟨hal-03990290⟩
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