Inducible defenses in food webs: Chapter 3.4

By: , and 
Edited by: Peter de RuiterVolkmar WoltersJohn C. Moore, and Kimberly Melville-Smith



This chapter reviews the predicted effects of induced defenses on trophic structure and two aspects of stability, “local” stability and persistence, as well as presenting novel results on a third, resilience. Food webs are structures of populations in a given location organized according to their predator–prey interactions. Interaction strengths and, therefore, prey defenses are generally recognized as important ecological factors affecting food webs. Despite this, surprisingly, little light has been shed on the food web-level consequences of inducible defenses. Inducible defenses occur in many taxa in both terrestrial and aquatic food webs. They include refuge use, reduced activity, adaptive life history changes, the production of toxins, synomones and extrafloral nectar, and the formation of colonies, helmets, thorns, or spines. In the chapter, theoretical results for the effects of inducible defenses on trophic structure and the three aspects of stability are reviewed. This is done, in part, using bifurcation analysis—a type of analysis that is applied to nonlinear dynamic systems described by a set of ordinary differential or difference equations. The work presented in the chapter suggests that heterogeneity, as caused by induced defenses in prey species, has major effects on the functioning of food webs. Inducible defenses occur in many species in both aquatic and terrestrial systems, and theoretical work indicates they have major effects on important food web properties such as trophic structure, local stability, persistence, and resilience.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Inducible defenses in food webs: Chapter 3.4
Series number 3
Subseries Theoretical Ecology Series
DOI 10.1016/B978-012088458-2/50013-8
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Southeast Ecological Science Center
Description 14 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Dynamic food webs: Multispecies assemblages, ecosystem development, and environmental change
First page 114
Last page 127
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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