Size-based predictions of food web patterns
2014 (English)In: Theoretical Ecology, ISSN 1874-1738, Vol. 7, no 1, 23-33 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We employ size-based theoretical arguments to derive simple analytic predictions of ecological patterns and properties of natural communities: size-spectrum expo- nent, maximum trophic level, and susceptibility to invasive species. The predictions are brought about by assuming that an infinite number of species are continuously distributed on a size–trait axis. It is, however, an open question whether such predictions are valid for a food web with a finite num- ber of species embedded in a network structure. We address this question by comparing the size-based predictions to results from dynamic food web simulations with varying species richness. To this end, we develop a new size- and trait-based food web model that can be simplified into an analytically solvable size-based model. We confirm existing solutions for the size distribution and derive novel predic- tions for maximum trophic level and invasion resistance. Our results show that the predicted size-spectrum exponent is borne out in the simulated food webs even with few species, albeit with a systematic bias. The predicted max- imum trophic level turns out to be an upper limit since simulated food webs may have a lower number of trophic levels, especially for low species richness, due to structural constraints. The size-based model possesses an evolutionary stable state and is therefore un-invadable. In contrast, the food web simulations show that all communities, irrespec- tive of number of species, are equally open to invasions. We use these results to discuss the validity of size-based pre- dictions in the light of the structural constraints imposed by food webs.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 7, no 1, 23-33 p.
Biodiversity, Food web assembly, Individual size distribution, Size spectrum, Traits, Maximum trophic level
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-99959DOI: 10.1007/s12080-013-0193-5ISI: 000332025700004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-99959DiVA: diva2:788910