Predators often undergo complete ontogenetic diet shifts, engaging in resource competition with species that become their prey during later developmental stages. Theory posits that this mix of stage-specific competition and predation, termed life-history intraguild predation (LHIGP), can lead to alternative stable states. In one state, prey exclude predators through competition (i.e. juvenile competitive bottleneck), while in the alternative, adult predators control prey density to limit competition and foster coexistence. Nevertheless, the interactions leading to these states have not been demonstrated in an empirical LHIGP system. To address this gap, we manipulated densities of cannibalistic adult cyclopoid copepods (Mesocyclops edax) and their cladoceran prey (Daphnia pulex) in a response-surface design and measured the maturation and survival of juvenile copepods (nauplii). We found that Daphnia reduced and even precluded both nauplii maturation and survival through depletion of a shared food resource. As predicted, adult copepods enhanced nauplii maturation and survival through Daphnia consumption, yet this positive effect was dependent on the relative abundance of Daphnia as well as the absolute density of adult copepods. Adult copepods reduced nauplii survival through cannibalism at low Daphnia densities and at the highest copepod density. This work demonstrates that predation can relax a strong juvenile competitive bottleneck in freshwater zooplankton, though cannibalism can reduce predator recruitment. Thus, our results highlight a key role for cannibalism in LHIGP dynamics and provide evidence for the interactions that drive alternative stable states in such systems.
- Received July 11, 2016.
- Accepted August 9, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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