Additional Calendars
Calendar Views
Conferences and Meetings
Law School
Special Events

Biology Department Seminar, Catherine Matassa, Viewing food chains from the middle-out

When: Friday, October 22, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Where: > See description for location
Description: Location: LARTS 108
Speaker: Catherine Matassa, University of Connecticut

Title: Viewing food chains from the middle-out: how prey responses to predation risk affect top-down and bottom-up processes

Abstract: Predators can drive trophic cascades by consuming their prey but also by causing prey to engage in anti-predator behaviors such as reduced feeding rates or habitat shifts. However, the energetic costs of anti-predator behaviors require that prey carefully balance the need to avoid both predation and starvation. While a growing body of theory predicts predator-sensitive prey foraging behavior, empirical work has been necessary to identify the mechanisms that link anti-predator behaviors to their population-, community-, and ecosystem-level consequences. My research on benthic marine communities demonstrates that the cascading effects of "fear" on prey behavior and physiology can be more pronounced and more dynamic than the numerical effects of predators on prey density. This contrast arises because predation risk influences not only the intensity of prey foraging impacts, but also when, where, and how prey gather and utilize energy from lower trophic levels. Emerging from the ecology of fear is a "middle-out" perspective: the cascading effects of predators and the flow of energy and nutrients to higher trophic levels ultimately depend on the organisms that connect the tops and bottoms of food chains. Because most species are in the middle of food chains (and must therefore balance foraging-predation risk trade-offs), understanding how fear and other environmental stressors interact will be necessary to effectively predict and manage the impacts of climate change and trophic downgrading on marine ecosystems.
Contact: Biology Seminar Series 508.999.8248
Topical Areas: Faculty, Students, Students, Graduate