Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
In order to model the spatial distributions of predators and prey many investigators have used a simplified three-species system where a predator species consumes a prey species that consumes a resource. One of the recurring predictions from such models is that the spatial distribution of the predator will match the spatial distribution of the resource instead of that of the prey; this is known as ``leapfrogging". While it is interesting that leapfrogging is consistently predicted by models of three species, tritrophic systems, real biological communities are more complicated, being less like chains and more like multi-dimensional food webs (i.e., multiple prey and predator species interacting with each other). I ask: Are systems with more species and more connections among them well approximated by simpler, three-species single-chain models? I construct two different five-dimensional systems (a resource consumed by two prey species consumed by two predator species) and compare them to the single-chain system to see if more complicated systems yield the same predictions as a simpler single-chain system. I discovered that, in aggregate, the dynamics of predators in a multi-species web, is very similar to the dynamics of a simpler, single-chain system; yet individualy the dynamics of predator species in a multi-species web are very different from the dynamics of a simpler, single-chain system.
Perkins, Jerome Philippe, "Influence of Food Web Structure on Predator-Prey Dynamics in a Patchy Environment" (2013). Applied Mathematics Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 32.