Complementary predation on metamorphosing species promotes stability in predator-prey systems

Ezer Miller*, Moshe Coll, Lewi Stone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Functionally redundant predation and functionally complementary predation are both widespread phenomena in nature. Functional complementary predation can be found, for example, when predators feed on different life stages of their prey, while functional redundant predation occurs when different predators feed on all life stages of a shared prey. Both phenomena are common in nature, and the extent of differential life-stage predation depends mostly on prey life history; complementary predation is expected to be more common on metamorphosing prey species, while redundant predation is thought to be higher on non-metamorphosing species. We used an ordinary differential equation model to explore the effect of varying degree of complementary and redundant predation on the dynamic properties of a system with two predators that feed on an age-structured prey. Our main finding was that predation on one stage (adult or juvenile) resulted in a more stable system (i.e., it is stable for a wider range of parameters) compared to when the two predators mix the two prey developmental stages in their diet. Our results demonstrate that predator-prey dynamics depends strongly on predators' functionality when predator species richness is fixed. Results also suggest that systems with metamorphosing prey are expected to be more diverse compared to systems with non-metamorphosing prey.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Ruth-Ann Yonah for valuable help with manuscript preparation. This work was supported in part by the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research & Development Fund (BARD grant TB-8027-04 to MC) and the Israel Science Foundation, founded by the Academy of Science and Humanities (to LS).


  • Age-structured predation
  • Functional redundancy/complementary
  • Metamorphosis
  • Predator-prey population dynamics


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