Math. Model. Nat. Phenom.
Volume 8, Number 6, 2013Ecology
|Page(s)||25 - 44|
|Published online||28 November 2013|
Multitrophic Interactions in the Sea: Assessing the Effect of Infochemical-Mediated Foraging in a 1-d Spatial Model
1 School of Biological Sciences,
University of Essex, Wivenhoe
2 Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK
3 Department of Mathematics, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
Corresponding author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The release of chemicals following herbivore grazing on primary producers may provide feeding cues to carnivorous predators, thereby promoting multitrophic interactions. In particular, chemicals released following grazing on phytoplankton by microzooplankton herbivores have been shown to elicit a behavioural foraging response in carnivorous copepods, which may use this chemical information as a mechanism to locate and remain within biologically productive patches of the ocean. In this paper, we use a 1D spatial reaction-diffusion model to simulate a tri-trophic planktonic system in the water column, where predation at the top trophic level (copepods) is affected by infochemicals released by the primary producers forming the bottom trophic level. The effect of the infochemical-mediated predation is investigated by comparing the case where copepods forage randomly to the case where copepods adjust their vertical position to follow the distribution of grazing-induced chemicals. Results indicate that utilization of infochemicals for foraging provides fitness benefits to copepods and stabilizes the system at high nutrient load, whilst also forming a possible mechanism for phytoplankton bloom formation. We also investigate how the copepod efficiency to respond to infochemicals affects the results, and show that small increases (2%) in the ability of copepods to sense infochemicals can promote their persistence in the system. Finally we argue that effectively employing infochemicals for foraging can be an evolutionarily stable strategy for copepods.
Mathematics Subject Classification: 92D25 / 92D40
Key words: infochemicals / dimethylsulphide (DMS) / multitrophic interactions / vertical plankton distribution / food-web interactions / evolutionarily stable strategy
© EDP Sciences, 2013
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