Submit a preprint

Direct submissions to PCI Ecology from are possible using the B2J service


Trophic cascade driven by behavioural fine-tuning as naïve prey rapidly adjust to a novel predatoruse asterix (*) to get italics
Chris J Jolly, Adam S Smart, John Moreen, Jonathan K Webb, Graeme R Gillespie and Ben L PhillipsPlease use the format "First name initials family name" as in "Marie S. Curie, Niels H. D. Bohr, Albert Einstein, John R. R. Tolkien, Donna T. Strickland"
<p>The arrival of novel predators can trigger trophic cascades driven by shifts in prey numbers. Predators also elicit behavioural change in prey populations, via phenotypic plasticity and/or rapid evolution, and such changes may also contribute to trophic cascades. Here we document rapid demographic and behavioural changes in populations of a prey species (grassland melomys *Melomys burtoni*, a granivorous rodent) following the introduction of a novel marsupial predator (northern quoll *Dasyurus hallucatus*). Within months of quolls appearing, populations of melomys exhibited reduced survival and population declines relative to control populations. Quoll-invaded populations (n = 4) were also significantly shyer than nearby, quoll-free populations (n = 3) of conspecifics. This rapid but generalised response to a novel threat was replaced over the following two years with more threat-specific antipredator behaviours (i.e. predator-scent aversion). Predator-exposed populations, however, remained more neophobic than predator-free populations throughout the study. These behavioural responses manifested rapidly in changed rates of seed predation by melomys across treatments. Quoll-invaded melomys populations exhibited lower per-capita seed take rates, and rapidly developed an avoidance of seeds associated with quoll scent, with discrimination playing out over a spatial scale of tens of metres. Presumably the significant and novel predation pressure induced by quolls drove melomys populations to fine-tune behavioural responses to be more predator-specific through time. These behavioural shifts could reflect individual plasticity (phenotypic flexibility) in behaviour or may be adaptive shifts from natural selection imposed by quoll predation. Our study provides a rare insight into the rapid ecological and behavioural shifts enacted by prey to mitigate the impacts of a novel predator and shows that trophic cascades can be strongly influenced by behavioural as well as numerical responses.</p> should fill this box only if you chose 'All or part of the results presented in this preprint are based on data'. URL must start with http:// or https://
You should fill this box only if you chose 'Scripts were used to obtain or analyze the results'. URL must start with http:// or https://
You should fill this box only if you chose 'Codes have been used in this study'. URL must start with http:// or https://
Behavioural fine-tuning, novel predator, predator-prey dynamics, trophic cascade
NonePlease indicate the methods that may require specialised expertise during the peer review process (use a comma to separate various required expertises).
Behaviour & Ethology, Biological invasions, Evolutionary ecology, Experimental ecology, Foraging, Herbivory, Population ecology, Terrestrial ecology, Tropical ecology
No need for them to be recommenders of PCIEcology. Please do not suggest reviewers for whom there might be a conflict of interest. Reviewers are not allowed to review preprints written by close colleagues (with whom they have published in the last four years, with whom they have received joint funding in the last four years, or with whom they are currently writing a manuscript, or submitting a grant proposal), or by family members, friends, or anyone for whom bias might affect the nature of the review - see the code of conduct
e.g. John Doe []
2019-11-27 21:39:44
Denis Réale