Resource concentration mechanisms facilitate foraging success in simulations of a pulsed oligotrophic wetland

Landscape Ecology
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Abstract

Context

Movement of prey on hydrologically pulsed, spatially heterogeneous wetlands can result in transient, high prey concentrations, when changes in landscape features such as connectivity between flooded areas alternately facilitate and impede prey movement. Predators track and exploit these concentrations, depleting them as they arise.

Objectives

We sought to describe how prey pulses of fish rapidly form and persist on wetland landscapes, while enduring constant consumption by wading birds, without being fully depleted. Specifically, we questioned how is the predator–prey relationship mediated by interactions between animal movement and dynamic landscape connectivity?

Methods

Two models were developed of the predator–prey-landscape system with qualitatively different representations of space, to identify and quantify prey pulsing dynamics that were robust across modeled assumptions. The first included a homogeneous landscape described by simple geometry, and implicit fish movement as wetland volume contracts. The second modeled transverse movement across a heterogeneous landscape, with isolated drying patches.

Results

Both models produced rapid fish prey concentrations as the wetland dried to shallow water depths. These conditions are critical for making prey available to wading birds. Fish were also rapidly depleted by birds, representing daily caloric intake supporting birds. Model 1 provided average estimates across the modeled domain. Model 2 mapped locations of emerging prey hotspots on the landscape through time.

Conclusions

Our models tracked predator, prey, and landscape dynamics in parallel, inducing systems dynamics from empirical observations. Explicit inclusion of dynamic wetland hydrologic connectivity, a key landscape mechanism, allowed for a comprehensive picture of links between landscape dynamics and the adapted predator–prey system.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Resource concentration mechanisms facilitate foraging success in simulations of a pulsed oligotrophic wetland
Series title Landscape Ecology
DOI 10.1007/s10980-019-00784-0
Volume 34
Issue 3
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 19 p.
First page 583
Last page 601