Toyokawa W. (2017). Scrounging by foragers can resolve the paradox of enrichment. Royal Society Open Science, 4: 160830. doi:10.1098/rsos.160830

Theoretical models of predator–prey systems predict that sufficient enrichment of prey can generate large amplitude limit cycles, paradoxically causing a high risk of extinction (the paradox of enrichment). Although real ecological communities contain many gregarious species, whose foraging behaviour should be influenced by socially transmitted information, few theoretical studies have examined the possibility that social foraging might resolve this paradox. I considered a predator population in which individuals play the producer–scrounger foraging game in one-prey-one-predator and two-prey-one-predator systems. I analysed the stability of a coexisting equilibrium point in the one-prey system and that of non-equilibrium dynamics in the two-prey system. The results revealed that social foraging could stabilize both systems, and thereby resolve the paradox of enrichment when scrounging behaviour (i.e. kleptoparasitism) is prevalent in predators. This suggests a previously neglected mechanism underlying a powerful effect of group-living animals on the sustainability of ecological communities.