Kelsey Tikka

Globally, apex predators face extinction and are experiencing unprecedented population declines, which can lead to the release of lower trophic-level predators known as mesopredators. Similar to apex predators, mesopredators have the ability to directly affect community structure and indirectly alter ecosystem processes. Recently, focus has turned to understanding how interactions between mesopredators can result in unexpected non-independent Multiple Predator Effects (MPEs) on shared prey resources. My research aims to contribute to this growing body of work and to determine how the combined predator effects of mesopredators can impact community structure and ecosystem function. Using small-scale model systems of stream invertebrate communities, I aim to identify how interactions between predatory stonefly larvae can cause trophic cascades that propagate through stream food webs. This knowledge will help to identify MPE patterns, which can lead to the formulation of general principles for predictive models that can be applied to larger-scale systems.