The interaction between competition and predation: A meta-analysis of field experiments

Jessica Gurevitch*, Janet A. Morrison, Larry V. Hedges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

347 Scopus citations


Ecologists working with a range of organisms and environments have carried out manipulative field experiments that enable us to ask questions about the interaction between competition and predation (including herbivory) and about the relative strength of competition and predation in the field. Evaluated together, such a collection of studies can offer insight into the importance and function of these factors in nature. Using a new factorial meta-analysis technique, we combined the results of 20 articles reporting on 39 published field experiments to ask whether the presence of predators affects the intensity of competitive effects and to compare the average effects of competition and predation. Across all studies, the effects of competition in the presence of predators were less than in the absence of predators, and the interaction between competition and predation for most response variables was statistically significant. Removal of competitors had much more positive effects on organisms' growth and mass than did exclusion of predators. Predator exclusion had much more beneficial effects on organisms' survival than did competition. The mean effects of competition and predation on density did not differ from one another. The results differed among trophic levels. Further understanding would benefit greatly from more field experiments that manipulate both competition and predation, that focus on a wider range of organisms and environments, that focus on population-level parameters such as density, and that report results more completely, including data such as sample sizes and variances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-453
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Competition
  • Ecological experiments
  • Herbivory
  • Meta-analysis
  • Predation
  • Statistical interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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