Food Web Complexity (food + web_complexity)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Food web complexity and chaotic population dynamics

Gregor F. Fussmann
Abstract In mathematical models, very simple communities consisting of three or more species frequently display chaotic dynamics which implies that long-term predictions of the population trajectories in time are impossible. Communities in the wild tend to be more complex, but evidence for chaotic dynamics from such communities is scarce. We used supercomputing power to test the hypothesis that chaotic dynamics become less frequent in model ecosystems when their complexity increases. We determined the dynamical stability of a universe of mathematical, nonlinear food web models with varying degrees of organizational complexity. We found that the frequency of unpredictable, chaotic dynamics increases with the number of trophic levels in a food web but decreases with the degree of complexity. Our results suggest that natural food webs possess architectural properties that may intrinsically lower the likelihood of chaotic community dynamics. [source]

Fishing out marine parasites?

Impacts of fishing on rates of parasitism in the ocean
Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 761,775 Abstract Among anthropogenic effects on the ocean, fishing is one of the most pervasive and extends deepest into the past. Because fishing reduces the density of fish (reducing transmission efficiency of directly transmitted parasites), selectively removes large fish (which tend to carry more parasites than small fish), and reduces food web complexity (reducing transmission efficiency of trophically transmitted parasites), the removal of fish from the world's oceans over the course of hundreds of years may be driving a long-term, global decline in fish parasites. There has been growing recognition in recent years that parasites are a critical part of biodiversity and that their loss could substantially alter ecosystem function. Such a loss may be among the last major ecological effects of industrial fishing to be recognized by scientists. [source]

Effects of heterogeneous interaction strengths on food web complexity

OIKOS, Issue 3 2008
Josep L. Garcia-Domingo
Using a bioenergetic model we show that the pattern of foraging preferences greatly determines the complexity of the resulting food webs. By complexity we refer to the degree of richness of food-web architecture, measured in terms of some topological indicators (number of persistent species and links, connectance, link density, number of trophic levels, and frequency of weak links). The poorest food-web architecture is found for a mean-field scenario where all foraging preferences are assumed to be the same. Richer food webs appear when foraging preferences depend on the trophic position of species. Food-web complexity increases with the number of basal species. We also find a strong correlation between the complexity of a trophic module and the complexity of entire food webs with the same pattern of foraging preferences. [source]

Allochtonous input and trophic level heterogeneity: impact on an aquatic food web

OIKOS, Issue 1 2006
J. L÷vgren
The impact of food web complexity in open and closed food webs was explored experimentally under controlled laboratory conditions. We used an aquatic model community consisting of two forms of primary producers, phytoplankton (Scenedesmus obtusiuscusculus) and periphyton (Nitzschia perminuta) and two types of consumers, Daphnia pulex feeding on phytoplankton and Chydorous sphaericus feeding on both periphyton and phytoplankton. Three different food webs all having the phytoplankton and periphyton, but having either one of the consumers or both were set up. These food webs were studied in an open and closed treatment. In the open treatment, phytoplankton was continuously flowing through the aquaria whereas in the closed system all the phytoplankton was delivered at the start of the experiment. D. pulex had a positive effect on the density of C. sphaericus in both the open and closed treatments. In the open treatment C. sphaericus increased to very high numbers and was able to depress phytoplankton and thereby negatively affect D. pulex. Our study shows that the explicit handling of the population dynamics of both grazers allowed us to show how a compensatory increase in one primary producer due to increased grazing on another primary producer creates a negative feedback between consumers: C. sphaericus increased and negatively affected D. pulex. [source]

Stability of pitcher-plant microfaunal populations depends on food web structure

OIKOS, Issue 1 2005
M. Kurtis Trzcinski
Enrichment (increasing K) destabilizes simple consumer,resource interactions, but increasing food web complexity in various ways can remove this paradox of enrichment. We varied resources and number of omnivorous predators (mosquitoes) and tested for effects on the stability (persistence and temporal variability) of microfaunal populations living in pitcher plants. Top-down (omnivorous) effects were destabilizing, decreasing the persistence time of a rotifer, Habrotrocha rosa, and perhaps a microflagellate, Bodo sp. Enrichment effects were more complex, in part due to effects of shredding midges on resource availability, and in part due to interactions with predation. The persistence of Bodo increased with resource availability (more bacteria due to shredding by midges; no paradox of enrichment). Increasing resources by adding ants decreased persistence of H. rosa when mosquitoes were rare (paradox of enrichment), but the effect was reversed in leaves with significant colonization by mosquitoes. Thus, in the microfaunal community of pitcher plants, omnivorous predation tends to be destabilizing, and also tends to remove the paradox of enrichment. [source]