Trophic cascade driven by behavioral fine-tuning as naive prey rapidly adjust to a novel predator
Chris J Jolly, Adam S Smart, John Moreen, Jonathan K Webb, Graeme R Gillespie, Ben L Phillips
ECOLOGY | WILEY | Published : 2021
The arrival of novel predators can trigger trophic cascades driven by shifts in prey numbers. Predators also elicit behavioral 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 behavioral 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 were also significantly ..View full abstract
Awarded by Australian Research Council Linkage Grant
Thanks to Kenbi Traditional Owners (Raylene and Zoe Singh) for land access permission and Kenbi Rangers for assistance in the field. Special thanks to Kenbi Rangers (Brett Bigfoot, Rex Edmunds, Jack Gardner, Ian McFarlane, Dale Singh, and Rex Sing) for continued field assistance throughout this project. Thanks to Kenbi Ranger Coordinator Steven Brown for logistical support in the field. Thanks to Ella Kelly and Naomi Indigo for logistical and moral support on the island. Thanks to Alana de Laive for graphic design of figures. We thank two anonymous reviewers and D. Reale for their comments via Peer Community in Ecology, which greatly improved the manuscript. This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (J. K. Webb and B. L. Phillips LP150100722). Animal ethics approval for this work was provided by the University of Melbourne (1814518) and Charles Darwin University (A13026) Animal Ethics Committees. In kind support was provided by Kenbi Rangers and the Northern Territory Government Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Flora and Fauna Division (via G. R. Gillespie). C. J. Jolly was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award, the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment and David Hay Postgraduate Writing Up Award. Authorship statement: C. J. Jolly and B. L. Phillips designed the study; C. J. Jolly, A. S. Smart, J. Moreen, and B. L. Phillips collected data; C. J. Jolly and B. L. Phillips performed analyses and wrote the manuscript; all authors (except J. Moreen) contributed to revisions.