Effects of predator richness on prey suppression: A meta-analysis

John N. Griffin, Jarrett E.K. Byrnes, Bradley J. Cardinale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


It is well established that species richness of primary producers and primary consumers can enhance efficiency of resource uptake and biomass production of respective trophic levels. At the level of secondary consumers (predators), however, conclusions about the functional role of biodiversity have been mixed. We take advantage of a recent surge of published experiments (totaling 46 since 2005) to both evaluate general effects of predator richness on aggregate prey suppression (top-down control) and explore sources of variability among experiments. Our results show that, across experiments, predator richness enhances prey suppression relative to the average single predator species (mean richness effect), but not the best-performing species. Mean richness effects in predator experiments were stronger than those for primary producers and detritivores, suggesting that relationships between richness and function may increase with trophic height in food webs. The strength of mean predator richness effects increased with the spatial and temporal scale of experiments, and the taxonomic distinctness (TD, used as a proxy of phylogenetic diversity) of species present. This latter result suggests that TD captures important aspects of functional differentiation among predators and that measures of biodiversity that go beyond species richness may help to better predict the effects of predator species loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2180-2187
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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