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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Adaptive and variable intraguild predators facilitate local coexistence in an intraguild predation module

San-He Wu and Toshinori Okuyama*

Author Affiliations

Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd, Taipei, 106, Taiwan

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BMC Ecology 2012, 12:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6785-12-6

Published: 24 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Intraguild predation (IGP) is common in nature, but its ecological role is still illusive. A number of studies have investigated a three species IGP module that consists of an intraguild predator, intraguild prey, and resource species in which the intraguild predator and the intraguild prey exploitatively compete for the resource while the intraguild predator also consumes the intraguild prey. A common prediction of models of the IGP module is that the coexistence of the species is difficult, which is considered inconsistent to the ubiquity of IGP in nature. This study revisits the IGP module and provides an alternative coexistence mechanism by focusing on a commonly used analysis method (i.e., invasion analysis) in light of individual variation in adaptive behavior.

Results

Invasion analysis underestimates the possibility of coexistence regardless of the presence or absence of adaptive behavior. Coexistence is possible even when invasion analysis predicts otherwise. The underestimation by invasion analysis is pronounced when the intraguild predator forages adaptively, which is even further pronounced when the expression of foraging behavior is variable among intraguild predators.

Conclusions

The possibility of coexistence in the IGP module is greater than previously thought, which may have been partly due to how models were analyzed. Inconsistent conclusions may result from the same model depending on how the model is analyzed. Individual variation in adaptive behavior can be an important factor promoting the coexistence of species in IGP modules.

Keywords:
Invasion analysis; Stability analysis; Behavioral variation; Coexistence; Omnivory