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Journal Article

Overcoming food limitation by cannibalism: a model study on cyclopoids


Gabriel,  Wilfried
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Gabriel, W. (1985). Overcoming food limitation by cannibalism: a model study on cyclopoids. Ergebnisse der Limnologie/Advances in Limnology, 21, 373-381.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-F2A8-D
Many cyclopoid copepods change their feeding habits during development. Young stages are herbivorous, whereas adults are carnivores or omnivores. A demographic model based on physiological parameters is developed to study the effect of cannibalism on the population dynamics of cyclopoids and their prey. If alternative prey are available and their potential growth rate is higher than the potential growth rate of the cyclopoids, the survival of predator and prey populations without cannibalism is guaranteed only if the prey population is above a critical density. Cannibalism allows the survival below this critical density independent of the actual age distribution and even prevents extinction at densities much below the critical point. Therefore, cannibalism is considered to be a stabilizing factor in predator-prey interactions during and after periods of food limitation.