Natural enemies and biodiversity: The double-edged sword of trophic interactions

Alexandre Mestre, Robert D. Holt


Natural enemies, that is, species that inflict harm on others while feeding on them, are fundamental drivers of biodiversity dynamics and represent a substantial portion of biodiversity as well. Along the life history of the Earth, natural enemies have been involved in probably some of the most productive mechanisms of biodiversity genesis; that is, adaptive radiation mediated by enemy-victim coevolutionary processes. At ecological timescales, natural enemies are a fundamental piece of food webs and can contribute to biodiversity preservation by promoting stability and coexistence at lower trophic levels through top-down regulation mechanisms. However, natural enemies often produce dramatic losses of biodiversity, especially when humans are involved.


apparent competition; coexistence; ecological opportunity; enemy-victim interactions; top-down regulation

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