Ecological theory depicts predators and their prey as instantaneously interacting particles, a way of looking at predation with a historical footing in chemical kinetics. A series of recent models that consider mutual interference between predators to be an important factor in determining consumption rate and therefore predator-prey dynamics have challenged this view of predation.
In this dissertation I investigate the importance of interference and design experiments to contrast between competing models of predator-prey interaction. After laying out the history of this theoretical controversy and the data that accompanies it, I establish the importance of using appropriately simple models in light of limited ecological data. I then present a rationale for questioning traditional theory. In order to provide a full understanding of the competing models, I present a detailed exploration of their stability space and equilibriums based on numerical simulations. These explorations establish that models of predation can be contrasted across two biological parameters: the prey growth rate (r) and the prey carrying capacity (K). I discuss their meaning and show that they can be effectively manipulated in the laboratory. I argue that the time scale of predation rates is not universal and show that the degree of predator interference detected depends on the time scale on which predation is measured. Based on the experimental and theoretical insights of my work, I conclude with a novel predator-prey model designed to bridge the gap between historically competing representations of predation.
|School:||State University of New York at Stony Brook|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-B 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Mutual interference, Predation, Predator-prey|
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