Predator Diversity and Ecosystem Function

Biodiversity plays important roles in ecosystem function and therefore changes in ecological diversity, for example through invasions and extinctions, have large effects. However, predicting the effects of these changes is challenging. We used functional response parameters as traits in a multiple-trait framework to develop a new metric for predator diversity. We developed a modeling framework and used lab and field experiments to parameterize the model. We tested the effectiveness of our new metrics in a large mesocosm experiment.

We based our models and experiments on riverine rockpools in the James River, with Physa snails as prey, and crayfish, sunfish, leeches, flatworms, and Belostoma water bugs as predators. This work was collaborative between researchers at East Carolina University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Radford University, and McMaster University. We are still in the process of analyzing and writing up these results, so stay tuned!