Physical Stress, Consumer Control, and New Theory in Ecology.
Consumer-prey interactions form the foundation of food webs and are affected by the physical environment. Multiple foundational theories in ecology [e.g., the environmental stress model (ESM), the stress-gradient hypothesis (SGH), and ecosystem resilience theory] assume increased physical stress dampens top-down control of prey. In the large majority of empirical studies, however, physical stress either does not affect or amplifies consumer control. Additive and synergistic impacts of physical stress on consumer control appear more common, for example, for herbivory versus predation, and for warm- versus cold-blooded consumers. Predictability in how physical stress affects consumer control, however, remains largely unknown. We expand classical theories in ecology so that their assumption about physical stress-consumer control relationships can be inclusive of what primarily occurs in nature.
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