Bohannan, B. J. M., and R. E. Lenski. 1997. Effect of resource enrichment on a chemostat community of bacteria and bacteriophage. Ecology 78:2303-2315.
We determined the responses of a model laboratory community to resource enrichment and compared these responses to the predictions of prey-dependent and ratio-dependent food chain models. Our model community consisted of Escherichia coli B and bacteriophage T4 in chemostats supplied with different concentrations of glucose. We observed the following responses to enrichment: (1) a large and highly significant increase a in the equilibrium population density of the predator, bacteriophage T4, (2) a small but significant increase in the equilibrium population density of the prey, E. coli, and (3) a large and highly significant decrease in the stability of both the predator and prey populations. These responses were better predicted by a prey-dependent model (altered to include a time delay between consumption and reproduction by predators) than by a ratio-dependent model. Enrichment had a large effect on evolutionary change in our system. Enrichment significantly decreased the amount of time required for mutants of E. coli that were resistant to predation by bacteriophage to appear in the chemostats. Enrichment also significantly increased the rate at which these bacteriophage-resistant mutants invaded the chemostats. These results were also better predicted by the prey-dependent model. Invasion by bacteriophage-resistant mutants had a large effect on the subsequent population dynamics of both predator and prey. Both the equilibrium density and stability of the E. coli population increased following invasion, and the population shifted from being primarily limited by predators to being primarily limited by resources. After invasion by the mutants, the T4 population decreased in equilibrium density, and the population cycled with an increased period. These results were compared to the predictions of a ratio-dependent model and a prey-dependent model altered to include T4-resistant mutants. The dynamics of this community were better predicted by the modified prey-dependent model; however, this model was more complex mathematically than the simpler ratio-dependent model.