Do predators shape ecosystems? Trophic cascades curtailed by prey use of dangerous places during safe times

From the University of Minnesota:

By simulating wolf activity in the grasslands of central Minnesota, University of Minnesota researchers demonstrated that deer altered their behavior in response to the fear of predation in specific ways that halt the cascade of predator effects on plant and soil communities.

“Traditionally, it was believed that predators shape ecosystems by changing the activity of the prey and that the prey’s changes in behavior would then have cascading consequences on organisms in lower trophic levels, such as soil and plants,” said lead author Meredith Palmer, a former graduate student and postdoctoral researcher with the U of M College of Biological Sciences and current postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. “However, our research shows that isn’t the case and sheds light on understanding why we do not always see trophic cascades in terrestrial ecosystems.”

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