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Conservation Strategies for Species Affected by Apparent Competition

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Abstract

Apparent competition is an indirect interaction between 2 or more prey species through a shared predator, and it is increasingly recognized as a mechanism of the decline and extinction of many species. Through case studies, we evaluated the effectiveness of 4 management strategies for species affected by apparent competition: predator control, reduction in the abundances of alternate prey, simultaneous control of predators and alternate prey, and no active management of predators or alternate prey. Solely reducing predator abundances rapidly increased abundances of alternate and rare prey, but observed increases are likely short‐lived due to fast increases in predator abundance following the cessation of control efforts. Substantial reductions of an abundant alternate prey resulted in increased predation on endangered huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) deer in Chilean Patagonia, which highlights potential risks associated with solely reducing alternate prey species. Simultaneous removal of predators and alternate prey increased survival of island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) in California (U.S.A.) above a threshold required for population recovery. In the absence of active management, populations of rare woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) continued to decline in British Columbia, Canada. On the basis of the cases we examined, we suggest the simultaneous control of predators and alternate prey is the management strategy most likely to increase abundances and probabilities of persistence of rare prey over the long term. Knowing the mechanisms driving changes in species’ abundances before implementing any management intervention is critical. We suggest scientists can best contribute to the conservation of species affected by apparent competition by clearly communicating the biological and demographic forces at play to policy makers responsible for the implementation of proposed management actions.

Estrategias de Conservación para Especies Afectadas por Competencia Aparente
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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