Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Habitat fragmentation and the stability of predator–prey interactions

Abstract

Mathematical models1–3, field observations4,5, and laboratory studies6 all suggest that habitat patchiness (or 'fragmentation') profoundly affects species interactions. One especially widely cited idea is that patchiness stabilizes predator–prey dynamics7,8. I performed the first test of this idea in a natural community by experimentally manipulating the degree of patchiness in goldenrod fields that were the setting for a predator–prey interaction between ladybird beetles and aphids. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I found that increasing patchiness led to more frequent local explosions of aphid populations and thus less stable dynamics. These results can be understood by examining the effects of patchiness on the searching and aggregation behaviour of ladybird predators. It appears that the effects of habitat fragmentation depend on the specific behaviour of the organisms using the habitats. Thus, instead of making robust generalizations about habitat fragmentation (such as "patchiness is stabilizing") we should seek predictions that are based on the details of an organism's dispersal behaviour and demography9.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Hastings, A. Theor. Populat. Biology 12, 37–48 (1978).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Levin, S. A. Rev. ecol. Syst. 7, 287–310 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Maynard Smith, J. in Models in Ecology, 69–83 (Cambridge University Press, 1974).

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  4. Elton, C. J. Ecol. 37, 1–23 (1949).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Hanski, I. & Ranta, E. J. Anim. Ecol. 52, 263–279 (1983).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Huffaker, C. B. Hilgardia 27, 343–383 (1958).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Begon, M., Harper, J. & Townsend, C. in Ecology, 337–339 (Sinauer, Massachusetts, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  8. May, R. J. Anim. Ecol. 47, 833–843 (1978).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hassell, M. & Ma, R. in Behavioural Ecology (eds Sibly, R. & Smith, R.) 137–154 (Blackwell, Oxford, 1985).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Kareiva, P. Lect. Notes Biomath. 54, 368–389 (1984).

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Kareiva, P. in Community Ecology (eds Diamond, J. & Case, T.) 196–206 (Harper & Row, New York, 1985).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kareiva, P. & Odell, G. Am. Nat (in the press).

  13. Hassell, M. & Ma, R. J. Anim. Ecol. 43, 567–594 (1974).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Heads, P. & Lawton, J. Oikos 40, 267–276 (1981).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Wilcox, D., McClellan, C. & Dobson, A. in Conservation Biology (ed. Soule, M.) 237–256 (Sinauer, Massachusetts, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  16. Pickett, S. & Thompson, J. Biol. Cons. 13, 27–37 (1978).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kareiva, P. Habitat fragmentation and the stability of predator–prey interactions. Nature 326, 388–390 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1038/326388a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/326388a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing