Data for: modelling a predator-prey interaction
MSc students from the Ecological Modelling course from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon took part in an experiment that intended to model a typical predator-prey situation. These students played the role of predators, while prey was represented by animal shaped pasta (each measuring approximately 1 cm2) displayed on separate tables of the same size. In total there were 34 predators (each assigned a number), divided into groups of 3 to 5. Two main methods were used: (1) Capture Attempts and (2) Capture time, as a function of different abundances of prey (N=15,30,50,60,70,80,100,140,160). The first method assessed how many attempts (C1, C2, C3) were needed for predators to capture a total of three preys, while blindfolded and using only their fingertips. In the second method, predators moved a single finger along each table until they touched 3 preys, timing each capture cumulatively (T1, T2, T3). Each predator performed both methods on all prey groups, i.e. on all tables. Explanatory variables were defined as follows: prey abundance, the order in which the different tables of prey were preyed upon, predator number, predator size (represented by student's height and hand size) and predator's eye colour. Response variables (capture attempts and capture time) were modeled as a function of the previous explanatory variables. Modelling predation phenomena that occur in nature implies simplifying complex relationships. As such, in this study we focus on three key aspects: (1) ascertaining variables that influence predation success; (2) searching for a possible predator learning process throughout the experiment; (3) assessing if individual heterogeneity affects predation success, and if so how. Firstly, we expect that out of all tested variables only predator eye colour does not have a significant effect on the response variables. Secondly, we predict a decline in capture attempts and capture time according to the order in which the different tables of prey were preyed upon, which may suggest a learning curve during the procedure. Finally, and often ignored in modelling exercises, here we anticipate that individual heterogeneity between predators is an underlying factor.
Steps to reproduce