Bosch, Frank van den; Roos, A. M.; Gabriel, Wilfried
Cannibalism as a life boat mechanism.
In: Journal of Mathematical Biology, Vol. 26, Nr. 6: S. 619-633
Under certain conditions a cannibalistic population can survive when food for the adults is too scarce to support a non-cannibalistic population. Cannibalism can have this lifeboat effect if (i) the juveniles feed on a resource inaccessible to the adults; and (ii) the adults are cannibalistic and thus incorporate indirectly the inaccessible resource. Using a simple model we conclude that the mechanism works when, at low population densities, the average yield, in terms of new offspring, due to the energy provided by one cannibalized juvenile is larger than one.