Editor's choice November

Submitted by editor on 6 November 2018.

We chose the article of Ellen van Velzen and colleagues as the editor’s choice for November. The authors present a model that challenges the paradigm and common view that plastic inducible defences stabilise predator-prey dynamics. The reason for this contrasting response is simple and realistic: prey usually experience selection by multiple predators. The destabilising effects are caused by an increased synchronisation of the population dynamics of different prey phenotypes and eventually also the predators.  Adding complexity to existing simple models through for instance the addition of trophic interaction may thus change our view completely on the mechanisms leading to community stability in general.

Predators also predate on other predators. Such interactions are common across the animal kingdom but seldom studied. In order to fill this caveat, Rui Lourenço and colleagues provided a synthesis on the drivers of superpredation based on a detailed insights from an intensively studied eagle owl population. The authors review and test a set of alternative hypotheses, develop a theoretical framework, and show that  super-predation events are based on complex decision-making based on momentary cost-benefit balances. Field evidence demonstrates that the benefits of superpredation are increasing under food‐stress, but equally that such lethal interactions may directly result from opportunism. This contribution hence provides a valuable and highly needed step to advance further theoretical and empirical integration of relevant higher-order interactions between predators in realistic food webs.

Yours, 

Dries

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