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Cascading predator control interacts with productivity to determine the trophic level of biomass accumulation in a benthic food web
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2012 (English)In: Ecological research, ISSN 0912-3814, E-ISSN 1440-1703, Vol. 27, no 1, 203-210 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Large-scale exploitation of higher trophic levels by humans, together with global-scale nutrient enrichment, highlights the need to explore interactions between predator loss and resource availability. The hypothesis of exploitation ecosystems suggests that top-down and bottom-up control alternate between trophic levels, resulting in a positive relationship between primary production and the abundance of every second trophic level. Specifically, in food webs with three effective trophic levels, primary producers and predators should increase with primary production, while in food webs with two trophic levels, only herbivores should increase. We provided short-term experimental support for these model predictions in a natural benthic community with three effective trophic levels, where the number of algal recruits, but not the biomass of gastropod grazers, increased with algal production. In contrast, when the food web was reduced to two trophic levels by removing larger predators, the number of algal recruits was unchanged while gastropod grazer biomass increased with algal production. Predator removal only affected the consumer-controlled early life-stages of algae, indicating that both the number of trophic levels and the life-stage development of the producer trophic level determine the propagation of trophic cascades in benthic systems. Our results support the hypothesis that predators interact with resource availability to determine food-web structure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 27, no 1, 203-210 p.
Keyword [en]
Interaction between top-down bottom-up control, Trophic cascade, Benthic food-web, Marine eutrophication, Baltic Sea
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-55410DOI: 10.1007/s11284-011-0889-1ISI: 000302149200022OAI: diva2:526638
Available from: 2012-05-14 Created: 2012-05-14 Last updated: 2012-05-14Bibliographically approved

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Rubach, Anja
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