Dynamics of a stage-structured predator-prey model: cost and benefit of fear-induced group defense

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Theoretical Biology


In the predator-prey system, predators can affect the prey population (1) by direct killing and (2) by inducing predation fear, which ultimately force preys to adopt some anti-predator strategies. However, the anti-predator strategy is not the same for all individual preys of different life stages. Also, anti-predator behavior has both cost and benefit, but most of the mathematical models observed the dynamics by incorporating its cost only. In the present study, we formulate a predator-prey model dividing the prey population into two stages: juvenile and adult. We assume that adult preys are only adapting group defense as an anti-predator strategy when they are sensitive to predation. Group defense plays a positive role for adult prey by reducing their predation, but, on the negative side, it simultaneously decreases their reproductive potential. A parameter, anti-predator sensitivity is introduced to interlink both the benefit and cost of group defense. Our result shows that when adult preys are not showing anti-predator behavior, with an increase of maturation rate, the system exhibits a population cycle of abruptly increasing amplitude, which may drive all species of the system to extinction. Anti-predator sensitivity may exclude oscillation through homoclinic bifurcation and avert the prey population for any possible random extinction. Anti-predator sensitivity also decreases the predator population density and produces bistable dynamics. Higher values of anti-predator sensitivity may lead to the extinction of the predator population and benefit adult preys to persist with large population density. Below a threshold value of anti-predator sensitivity, it may possible to retain the predator population in the system by increasing the fear level of the predator. We also observe our fear-induced stage-structured model exhibits interesting and rich dynamical behaviors, various types of bistabilities in different bi-parameter planes. Finally, we discuss the potential impact of our findings.



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