ecosystem importance: benign top predators (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, March 07, 2022, 16:25 (156 days ago) @ David Turell

A new view:

"in a recent study published in Ecology Letters, my colleagues and I show – using complex predator-prey models – how this delicate equilibrium between predator and prey could have evolved.

"Prudent predation means that a predator species has evolved to avoid consuming as much and as aggressively as its own physical limits permit. Effectively – though not knowingly – prudent predators are restraining themselves for the benefit of other members of their species, as well as for future generations.

"Even when predators are prudent in their natural habitat, they may overexploit the prey around them if they are moved to places where they don't belong. An example is the Indo-Pacific lionfish, whose populations have rapidly expanded in and around the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"Lionfish feed on smaller fish and shellfish that live in reefs. They are such ferocious predators that ecologists became concerned that, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, few other fish species would survive their presence. Instead, something else happened.

"Lionfish populations suddenly began falling in Gulf of Mexico reefs, while their native competitors remained. It appears that, because lionfish overexploit their prey, they are not such strong competitors after all.

"These dwindling lionfish populations are therefore experiencing evolutionary pressure to feed less ferociously, so they can occupy reefs longer and have more opportunities to spread to other reefs. Eventually, we expect them to adapt to their new habitat by becoming prudent predators."

Comment: Ecosystems are designed to control themselves as this shows.

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