Food-web dynamics arise from predator-prey, parasite-host, and herbivore-plant interactions. Models for such interactions include up to three consumer activity states (questing, attacking, consuming) and up to four resource response states (susceptible, exposed, ingested, resistant). Articulating these states into a general model allows for dissecting, comparing, and deriving consumer-resource models. We specify this general model for 11 generic consumer strategies that group mathematically into predators, parasites, and micropredators and then derive conditions for consumer success, including a universal saturating functional response. We further show how to use this framework to create simple models with a common mathematical lineage and transparent assumptions. Underlying assumptions, missing elements, and composite parameters are revealed when classic consumer-resource models are derived from the general model.
Figure 1: Diagram of the general consumer-resource model and its relationship to classic consumer-resource models.