Global Change Risks a Threatened Species due to Alteration of Predator–prey Dynamics

Guillemette Labadie
Clément Hardy
Yan Boulanger
Virginie Vanlandeghem
Mark Hebblewhite
Daniel Fortin
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Although global change can reshape ecosystems by triggering cascading effects on food webs, indirect interactions remain largely overlooked. Climate- and land-use-induced changes in landscape cause shifts in vegetation composition, which affect entire food webs. We used simulations of forest dynamics and movements of interacting species, parameterized by empirical observations, to predict the outcomes of global change on a large-mammal food web in the boreal forest. We demonstrate that climate- and land-use-induced changes in forest landscapes exacerbate asymmetrical apparent competition between moose and threatened caribou populations through wolf predation. Although increased prey mortalities came from both behavioral and numerical responses, indirect effects from numerical responses had an overwhelming effect. The increase in caribou mortalities was exacerbated by the cumulating effects of land use over the short term and climate change impacts over the long term, with higher impact of land use. Indirect trophic interactions will be key to understanding community dynamics under global change.