ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE DIVERSITY OF FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES
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Prey-predator interactions have been modelled by numerous workers. Ecologists have continuously modified Lotka-Volterra equations in order to provide more realistic descriptions of the complexity of these interactions. The response of predator(s) to increasing prey density can be best described in terms of a functional response, which is an important criterion determining the success or failure of predator(s) to control fluctuating prey populations. The functional response of a predator is further differentiated into Holling's Type I, II, III, IV and V. We discuss one-prey and one-predator interactions, in which the models are modified by the inclusion of steady-state satiation and growth factors. We review situations where two prey and one predator interact, and vice versa. We also discuss Holling's Type IV model relevant to competition and food chains. There is a need to examine functional responses as these models were mostly developed by pure mathematicians and their relevance to field conditions remains largely untested. Prey-predator interactions can be affected even by small factors and ecologists should include these models in their experimental design when attempting to predict realistic interactions.