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Sample records for antarctic food web

  1. Contrasting time trends of organic contaminants in Antarctic pelagic and benthic food webs.

    PubMed

    van den Brink, Nico W; Riddle, Martin J; van den Heuvel-Greve, Martine; van Franeker, Jan Andries

    2011-01-01

    We demonstrate that pelagic Antarctic seabirds show significant decreases in concentrations of some persistent organic pollutants. Trends in Adélie penguins and Southern fulmars fit in a general pattern revealed by a broad literature review. Downward trends are also visible in pelagic fish, contrasting sharply with steady or increasing concentrations in Antarctic benthic organisms. Transfer of contaminants between Antarctic pelagic and benthic food webs is associated with seasonal sea-ice dynamics which may influence the balance between the final receptors of contaminants under different climatic conditions. This complicates the predictability of future trends of emerging compounds in the Antarctic ecosystem, such as of the brominated compounds that we detected in Antarctic petrels. The discrepancy in trends between pelagic and benthic organisms shows that Antarctic biota are still final receptors of globally released organic contaminants and it remains questionable whether the total environmental burden of contaminants in the Antarctic ecosystem is declining.

  2. Trophic structure of coastal Antarctic food webs associated with changes in sea ice and food supply.

    PubMed

    Norkko, A; Thrush, S F; Cummings, V J; Gibbs, M M; Andrew, N L; Norkko, J; Schwarz, A M

    2007-11-01

    Predicting the dynamics of ecosystems requires an understanding of how trophic interactions respond to environmental change. In Antarctic marine ecosystems, food web dynamics are inextricably linked to sea ice conditions that affect the nature and magnitude of primary food sources available to higher trophic levels. Recent attention on the changing sea ice conditions in polar seas highlights the need to better understand how marine food webs respond to changes in such broad-scale environmental drivers. This study investigated the importance of sea ice and advected primary food sources to the structure of benthic food webs in coastal Antarctica. We compared the isotopic composition of several seafloor taxa (including primary producers and invertebrates with a variety of feeding modes) that are widely distributed in the Antarctic. We assessed shifts in the trophic role of numerically dominant benthic omnivores at five coastal Ross Sea locations. These locations vary in primary productivity and food availability, due to their different levels of sea ice cover, and proximity to polynyas and advected primary production. The delta15N signatures and isotope mixing model results for the bivalves Laternula elliptica and Adamussium colbecki and the urchin Sterechinus neumeyeri indicate a shift from consumption of a higher proportion of detritus at locations with more permanent sea ice in the south to more freshly produced algal material associated with proximity to ice-free water in the north and east. The detrital pathways utilized by many benthic species may act to dampen the impacts of large seasonal fluctuations in the availability of primary production. The limiting relationship between sea ice distribution and in situ primary productivity emphasizes the role of connectivity and spatial subsidies of organic matter in fueling the food web. Our results begin to provide a basis for predicting how benthic ecosystems will respond to changes in sea ice persistence and extent

  3. Penguin eggshell membranes reflect homogeneity of mercury in the marine food web surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula.

    PubMed

    Brasso, Rebecka L; Polito, Michael J; Lynch, Heather J; Naveen, R; Emslie, Steven D

    2012-11-15

    Remote regions such as the Antarctic have become increasingly important for investigations into far-reaching anthropogenic impacts on the environment, most recently in regard to the global mercury cycle. Spatial patterns of mercury availability in four regions of the Antarctic Peninsula were investigated using three species of sympatrically breeding Pygoscelis penguins as biomonitors. Eggshells with intact membranes from Adélie, Gentoo, and Chinstrap penguins were collected at 24 breeding colonies in the South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, eastern Antarctic Peninsula, and western Antarctic Peninsula during the 2006/2007 austral summer. In addition, we compared eggshell membrane mercury concentrations with eggshell stable isotope values (δ(15)N and δ(13)C) to determine if species-specific trophic or foraging habitat preferences influenced female mercury exposure prior to breeding. With few exceptions, mercury concentrations were found to be fairly homogeneous throughout the Antarctic Peninsula suggesting little spatial variation in the risk of exposure to dietary mercury in this food web. Mercury concentrations in Gentoo and Adélie penguins were similar while Chinstrap penguins tended to have higher eggshell membrane mercury concentrations than their congeners. However, inter and intra-specific differences in eggshell membrane mercury concentration were not related to eggshell δ(15)N or δ(13)C values, a likely result of all three species foraging at similar trophic positions. The lack of regional-scale differences in mercury availability in this marine ecosystem may be a reflection of generally uniform atmospheric deposition and upwelling of regionally homogeneous deep water rather than from geographically distinct point sources.

  4. Effects of sea-ice extent and krill or salp dominance on the Antarctic food web

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Loeb, V.; Siegel, V.; Holm-Hansen, O.; Hewitt, R.; Fraser, W.; Trivelpiece, W.; Trivelpiece, S.

    1997-06-01

    Krill (Euphausia superba) provide a direct link between primary producers and higher trophic levels in the Antarctic marine food web. The pelagic tunicate Salpa thompsoni can also be important during spring and summer through the formation of extensive and dense blooms. Although salps are not a major dietary item for Antarctic vertebrate predators,, their blooms can affect adult krill reproduction and survival of krill larvae. Here we provide data from 1995 and 1996 that support hypothesized relationships between krill, salps and region-wide sea-ice conditions,. We have assessed salp consumption as a proportion of net primary production, and found correlations between herbivore densities and integrated chlorophyll-a that indicate that there is a degree of competition between krill and salps. Our analysis of the relationship between annual sea-ice cover and a longer time series of air temperature measurements, indicates a decreased frequency of winters with extensive sea-ice development over the last five decades. Our data suggest that decreased krill availability may affect the levels of their vertebrate predators. Regional warming and reduced krill abundance therefore affect the marine food web and krill resource management.

  5. Productivity and linkages of the food web of the southern region of the western Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ballerini, Tosca; Hofmann, Eileen E.; Ainley, David G.; Daly, Kendra; Marrari, Marina; Ribic, Christine A.; Smith, Walker O.; Steele, John H.

    2014-03-01

    The productivity and linkages in the food web of the southern region of the west Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf were investigated using a multi-trophic level mass balance model. Data collected during the Southern Ocean Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics field program were combined with data from the literature on the abundance and diet composition of zooplankton, fish, seabirds and marine mammals to calculate energy flows in the food web and to infer the overall food web structure at the annual level. Sensitivity analyses investigated the effects of variability in growth and biomass of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) and in the biomass of Antarctic krill predators on the structure and energy fluxes in the food web. Scenario simulations provided insights into the potential responses of the food web to a reduced contribution of large phytoplankton (diatom) production to total primary production, and to reduced consumption of primary production by Antarctic krill and mesozooplankton coincident with increased consumption by microzooplankton and salps. Model-derived estimates of primary production were 187-207 g C m-2 y-1, which are consistent with observed values (47-351 g C m-2 y-1). Simulations showed that Antarctic krill provide the majority of energy needed to sustain seabird and marine mammal production, thereby exerting a bottom-up control on higher trophic level predators. Energy transfer to top predators via mesozooplanton was a less efficient pathway, and salps were a production loss pathway because little of the primary production they consumed was passed to higher trophic levels. Increased predominance of small phytoplankton (nanoflagellates and cryptophytes) reduced the production of Antarctic krill and of its predators, including seabirds and seals.

  6. Winter and spring controls on the summer food web of the coastal West Antarctic Peninsula.

    PubMed

    Saba, Grace K; Fraser, William R; Saba, Vincent S; Iannuzzi, Richard A; Coleman, Kaycee E; Doney, Scott C; Ducklow, Hugh W; Martinson, Douglas G; Miles, Travis N; Patterson-Fraser, Donna L; Stammerjohn, Sharon E; Steinberg, Deborah K; Schofield, Oscar M

    2014-07-07

    Understanding the mechanisms by which climate variability affects multiple trophic levels in food webs is essential for determining ecosystem responses to climate change. Here we use over two decades of data collected by the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research program (PAL-LTER) to determine how large-scale climate and local physical forcing affect phytoplankton, zooplankton and an apex predator along the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). We show that positive anomalies in chlorophyll-a (chl-a) at Palmer Station, occurring every 4-6 years, are constrained by physical processes in the preceding winter/spring and a negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Favorable conditions for phytoplankton included increased winter ice extent and duration, reduced spring/summer winds, and increased water column stability via enhanced salinity-driven density gradients. Years of positive chl-a anomalies are associated with the initiation of a robust krill cohort the following summer, which is evident in Adélie penguin diets, thus demonstrating tight trophic coupling. Projected climate change in this region may have a significant, negative impact on phytoplankton biomass, krill recruitment and upper trophic level predators in this coastal Antarctic ecosystem.

  7. Winter and spring controls on the summer food web of the coastal West Antarctic Peninsula.

    PubMed

    Saba, Grace K; Fraser, William R; Saba, Vincent S; Iannuzzi, Richard A; Coleman, Kaycee E; Doney, Scott C; Ducklow, Hugh W; Martinson, Douglas G; Miles, Travis N; Patterson-Fraser, Donna L; Stammerjohn, Sharon E; Steinberg, Deborah K; Schofield, Oscar M

    2014-01-01

    Understanding the mechanisms by which climate variability affects multiple trophic levels in food webs is essential for determining ecosystem responses to climate change. Here we use over two decades of data collected by the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research program (PAL-LTER) to determine how large-scale climate and local physical forcing affect phytoplankton, zooplankton and an apex predator along the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). We show that positive anomalies in chlorophyll-a (chl-a) at Palmer Station, occurring every 4-6 years, are constrained by physical processes in the preceding winter/spring and a negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Favorable conditions for phytoplankton included increased winter ice extent and duration, reduced spring/summer winds, and increased water column stability via enhanced salinity-driven density gradients. Years of positive chl-a anomalies are associated with the initiation of a robust krill cohort the following summer, which is evident in Adélie penguin diets, thus demonstrating tight trophic coupling. Projected climate change in this region may have a significant, negative impact on phytoplankton biomass, krill recruitment and upper trophic level predators in this coastal Antarctic ecosystem. PMID:25000452

  8. Ecological Controls on Biogeochemical Fluxes in the Western Antarctic Peninsula: Long-Term Observations and Inverse Food Web Model Results

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ducklow, H. W.; Sailley, S. F.; Stammerjohn, S. E.; Saba, G. K.; Doney, S. C.

    2014-12-01

    Sea ice in the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region is both highly variable and rapidly changing. In the Palmer Station region, the ice season duration has decreased by 92 days since 1978. The sea-ice changes affect ocean stratification and freshwater balance; and in turn impact every component of the polar marine ecosystem. Long-term observations from the WAP shelf region show a pattern of chlorophyll (Chl) variability with three to five years of negative Chl anomalies interrupted by one or two years of positive anomalies. Observations and results from an inverse food-web model show that these low and high Chl regimes differed significantly from each other, with high primary productivity and net community production (NCP) associated with the high Chl years and vice-versa. Gross primary production averaged 40 mmolC m-2 d-1 in the low Chl years and 100 mmolC m-2 d-1 in the high Chl years, with 30-40% going to NCP across regimes. Only the food web in the southern region in high Chl years was dominated by large phytoplankton and krill, whereas in in all other cases, foodwebs were dominated by small phytoplankton and microzooplankton. These contrasts were strongest between the northern, low Chl years and southern, high Chl years, consistent with earlier north to south observations of sea ice and ecosystem change along the WAP. The relative importance of major bulk carbon flows did not differ substantially between high and low Chl years. Both the northern/low Chl and southern/high Chl regimes had roughly equal proportions of NCP, although its composition reflected shifts in dominance by large versus small plankton. These results suggest that food webs dominated by smaller phytoplankton and grazers have pathways that funnel production into NCP, and likely, export.

  9. The zooplankton food web under East Antarctic pack ice - A stable isotope study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jia, Zhongnan; Swadling, Kerrie M.; Meiners, Klaus M.; Kawaguchi, So; Virtue, Patti

    2016-09-01

    Understanding how sea ice serves zooplankton species during the food-limited season is crucial information to evaluate the potential responses of pelagic food webs to changes in sea-ice conditions in the Southern Ocean. Stable isotope analyses (13C/12C and 15N/14N) were used to compare the dietary preferences and trophic relationships of major zooplankton species under pack ice during two winter-spring transitions (2007 and 2012). During sampling, furcilia of Euphausia superba demonstrated dietary plasticity between years, herbivory when feeding on sea-ice biota, and with a more heterotrophic diet when feeding from both the sea ice and the water column. Carbon isotope signatures suggested that the pteropod Limacina helicina, small copepods Oithona spp., ostracods and amphipods relied heavily on sea-ice biota. Post larval E. superba and omnivorous krill Thysanoessa macrura consumed both water column and ice biota, but further investigations are needed to estimate the contribution from each source. Large copepods and chaetognaths overwintered on a water column-based diet. Our study suggests that warm and permeable sea ice is more likely to provide food for zooplankton species under the ice than the colder ice.

  10. Polychloronaphthalenes and other dioxin-like compounds in Arctic and Antarctic marine food webs.

    PubMed

    Corsolini, Simonetta; Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Imagawa, Takashi; Focardi, Silvano; Giesy, John P

    2002-08-15

    Here we report accumulation patterns of polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and pesticides (HCB, p,p'DDE) in polar organisms (polar bear from Alaskan Arctic and krill, sharp-spined notothen, crocodile icefish, Antarctic silverfish, Adélie penguin, South polar skua, and Weddell seal from the Ross Sea, Antarctica). PCNs, found in most of the samples, ranged from 1.5 pg/g in krill to 2550 pg/g in South polar skua on a wet weight basis. Lower chlorinated PCNs were the predominant congeners in organisms except skua and polar bear that showed similar PCN homologue patterns. PCDD/F concentrations were <90 pg/g wet wt in polar organisms; PCDD congeners showed peculiar accumulation patterns in different organisms. Correlation existed between PCN and PCB concentrations. PCB, HCF, and p,p'DDE levels were the highest in skua liver (11,150 ng/g wet wt, 345 ng/g wet wt, and 300 ng/g wet wt, respectively). Contribution of PCNs to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TEQ) was negligible (<0.1%) because of the lack of most toxic congeners. The highest TEQ was found in South polar skua liver (45 pg/g, wet weight). This is the first study to document the occurrence of PCNs in Antarctic organisms. High levels of dioxin-like chemicals in skua suggest the importance of intake via diet and migration habits, thus POP detection can be useful to trace migration behavior. Moreover, POP concentrations in penguin and skua eggs prove their transfer from the mother to eggs.

  11. Fun With Food Webs

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Smith, Karl D.

    1977-01-01

    Explains an upper elementary game of tag that illustrates energy flow in food webs using candy bars as food sources. A follow-up field trip to a river and five language arts projects are also suggested. (CS)

  12. Community food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    DeAngelis, Donald L.; El-Shaarawi, Abdel H.; Piegorsch, Walter W.

    2002-01-01

    Community food webs describe the feeding relationships, or trophic interactions, between the species of an ecological community. Both the structure and dynamics of such webs are the focus of food web research. The topological structures of empirical food webs from many ecosystems have been published on the basis of field studies and they form the foundation for theory concerning the mean number of trophic levels, the mean number of trophic connections versus number of species, and other food web measures, which show consistency across different ecosystems. The dynamics of food webs are influenced by indirect interactions, in which changes in the level of a population in one part of the food web may have indirect effects throughout the web. The mechanisms of these interactions are typically studied microcosm experiments, or sometimes in-field experiments. The use of mathematical models is also a major approach to understanding the effects of indirect interactions. Both empirical and mathematical studies have revealed important properties of food webs, such as keystone predators and trophic cascades.

  13. Properties of food webs

    SciTech Connect

    Pimm, S.L.

    1980-04-01

    On the assumption that systems of interacting species, when perturbed from equilibrium, should return to equilibrium quickly, one can predict four properties of food webs: (1) food chains should be short, (2) species feeding on more than one trophic level (omnivores) should be rare, (3) those species that do feed on more than one trophic level should do so by feeding on species in adjacent trophic levels, and (4) host-parasitoid systems are likely to be exceptions to (1)-(3) when interaction coefficients permit greater trophic complexity. By generating random, model food webs (with many features identical to webs described from a variety of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial systems), it is possible to generate expected values for the number of trophic levels and the degree of omnivory within webs. When compared with these random webs, real world webs are shown to have fewer trophic levels, less omnivory, and very few omnivores feeding on nonadjacent trophic levels. Insect webs are shown to have a greater degree of omnivory than other webs. The confirmation of all these predictions from stability analyses suggests that system stability places necessary, though not sufficient, limitations on the possible shapes of food webs.

  14. Shifts in Ross Sea food web structure as indicated by δ15N and δ13C values of fossil Antarctic seals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Leopold, A.; Brault, E.; McMahon, K.

    2013-12-01

    As climate change continues to mount, there is a growing need for understanding its effects on biological-physical interactions of marine ecosystems. Assessing the effects of anthropogenic activities on the coastal marine ecosystem involves understanding the underlying mechanisms driving these changes as well as establishing baselines of the natural system. Preliminary findings have indicated shifts in bulk carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) isotopic values of southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) samples, collected in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica in the Ross Sea region, over approximately the last 7,000 years. These shifts could result from 1) seals changing their foraging location and/or diet over this time, 2) climate change-induced shifts in the biogeochemistry at the base of the food web, or 3) some combination of both processes. We explored the patterns of long-term change in Ross Sea food web structure by examining the stable isotope values of three top predators in this system, Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx), and crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus). Fossil seal samples were collected in the Dry Valleys during the austral summer of 2012/13 and then analyzed for bulk C and N isotopes via an elemental analyzer/isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (EA/IRMS). Our initial findings indicate that C isotopic values of fossil seal samples from Weddell, leopard, and crabeater seals were more enriched than isotopic values of modern seals of the same species (e.g., δ13C = -22.79 × 0.92 ‰ and -26.71 × 0.50 ‰ for fossil and modern crabeater seals, respectively). Given the relatively consistent diet of crabeater seals, these findings suggest a shift in baseline food web structure occurred over the last 10,000 years, either through changes in foraging location or local shifts in biogeochemistry. For all species, N isotopic values are widely variable (e.g., 7.28 to 16.0 δ15N ‰ for the Weddell seal), which may be a result of

  15. The Great Lakes Food Web.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Baker, Marjane L.

    1997-01-01

    Presents a play for students in grades four to nine that incorporates the scientific names, physical characteristics, feeding habits, interactions, and interdependence of the plants and animals that make up the Great Lakes food web to facilitate the learning of this complex system. Includes a Great Lakes food web chart. (AIM)

  16. Metal dynamics in an Antarctic food chain.

    PubMed

    Nygård, T; Lie, E; Røv, N; Steinnes, E

    2001-07-01

    The concentrations of copper, zinc, cadmium, selenium and mercury were determined in eggs, muscle, liver, kidney and stomach content of nestilings and adults of the Antarctic petrel, Thalassoica antarctica, and its predator, the south polar skua, Chataracta maccormicki, from Svarthamaren, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. The dominant food of the petrels is krill, Euphausia superba. The results show relatively high levels of cadmium in krill, which is assumed to be the main reason for the high levels of cadmium in petrels and skuas. Cadmium is almost absent in eggs, but accumulates very rapidly with age in nestlings. The copper concentrations in livers of nestling petrels reach very high levels during growth. This may be seen in connection with physiological development processes. Mercury seems to be accumulated with age and between trophic levels. Among the nestlings, the mercury levels decrease with increasing age, which may be accomplished by the excretion of mercury through the growth of feathers and as a dilution effect during growth. Selenium and mercury are inversely correlated in nestlings. The levels of zinc were similar for different nestling stages and between nestlings and adults in skuas and petrels. PMID:11488240

  17. Parasites dominate food web links.

    PubMed

    Lafferty, Kevin D; Dobson, Andrew P; Kuris, Armand M

    2006-07-25

    Parasitism is the most common animal lifestyle, yet food webs rarely include parasites. The few earlier studies have indicated that including parasites leads to obvious increases in species richness, number of links, and food chain length. A less obvious result was that adding parasites slightly reduced connectance, a key metric considered to affect food web stability. However, reported reductions in connectance after the addition of parasites resulted from an inappropriate calculation. Two alternative corrective approaches applied to four published studies yield an opposite result: parasites increase connectance, sometimes dramatically. In addition, we find that parasites can greatly affect other food web statistics, such as nestedness (asymmetry of interactions), chain length, and linkage density. Furthermore, whereas most food webs find that top trophic levels are least vulnerable to natural enemies, the inclusion of parasites revealed that mid-trophic levels, not low trophic levels, suffered the highest vulnerability to natural enemies. These results show that food webs are very incomplete without parasites. Most notably, recognition of parasite links may have important consequences for ecosystem stability because they can increase connectance and nestedness.

  18. Dispersal dynamics in food webs.

    PubMed

    Melián, Carlos J; Křivan, Vlastimil; Altermatt, Florian; Starý, Petr; Pellissier, Loïc; De Laender, Frederik

    2015-02-01

    Studies of food webs suggest that limited nonrandom dispersal can play an important role in structuring food webs. It is not clear, however, whether density-dependent dispersal fits empirical patterns of food webs better than density-independent dispersal. Here, we study a spatially distributed food web, using a series of population-dispersal models that contrast density-independent and density-dependent dispersal in landscapes where sampled sites are either homogeneously or heterogeneously distributed. These models are fitted to empirical data, allowing us to infer mechanisms that are consistent with the data. Our results show that models with density-dependent dispersal fit the α, β, and γ tritrophic richness observed in empirical data best. Our results also show that density-dependent dispersal leads to a critical distance threshold beyond which site similarity (i.e., β tritrophic richness) starts to decrease much faster. Such a threshold can also be detected in the empirical data. In contrast, models with density-independent dispersal do not predict such a threshold. Moreover, preferential dispersal from more centrally located sites to peripheral sites does not provide a better fit to empirical data when compared with symmetric dispersal between sites. Our results suggest that nonrandom dispersal in heterogeneous landscapes is an important driver that shapes local and regional richness (i.e., α and γ tritrophic richness, respectively) as well as the distance-decay relationship (i.e., β tritrophic richness) in food webs.

  19. Community assembly and food web stability

    SciTech Connect

    Post, W.M.; Pimm, S.L.

    1983-01-01

    The ecological assembly of food webs is considered as a process of predator colonizations and extinctions. The results of computer simulations using predator-prey equations allow us to identify three types of food web stability and examine how they may change through development of food webs. Species turnover stability increases, stability to extensive species extinction remains constant, and local stability to population fluctuations decreases as food web assembly proceeds. 28 references, 7 figures, 3 tables.

  20. Food webs for parasitologists: a review.

    PubMed

    Sukhdeo, Michael V K

    2010-04-01

    This review examines the historical origins of food web theory and explores the reasons why parasites have traditionally been left out of food web studies. Current paradigms may still be an impediment because, despite several attempts, it remains virtually impossible to retrofit parasites into food web theory in any satisfactory manner. It seems clear that parasitologists must return to first principles to solve how best to incorporate parasites into ecological food webs, and a first step in changing paradigms will be to include parasites in the classic ecological patterns that inform food web theory. The limitations of current food web models are discussed with respect to their logistic exclusion of parasites, and the traditional matrix approach in food web studies is critically examined. The well-known energetic perspective on ecosystem organization is presented as a viable alternative to the matrix approach because it provides an intellectually powerful theoretical paradigm for generating testable hypotheses on true food web structure. This review proposes that to make significant contributions to the food web debate, parasitologists must work from the standpoint of natural history to elucidate patterns of biomass, species abundance, and interaction strengths in real food webs, and these will provide the basis for more realistic models that incorporate parasite dynamics into the overall functional dynamics of the whole web. A general conclusion is that only by quantifying the effects of parasites in terms of energy flows (or biomass) will we be able to correctly place parasites into food webs.

  1. Insect symbionts in food webs

    PubMed Central

    Henry, Lee M.

    2016-01-01

    Recent research has shown that the bacterial endosymbionts of insects are abundant and diverse, and that they have numerous different effects on their hosts' biology. Here we explore how insect endosymbionts might affect the structure and dynamics of insect communities. Using the obligate and facultative symbionts of aphids as an example, we find that there are multiple ways that symbiont presence might affect food web structure. Many symbionts are now known to help their hosts escape or resist natural enemy attack, and others can allow their hosts to withstand abiotic stress or affect host plant use. In addition to the direct effect of symbionts on aphid phenotypes there may be indirect effects mediated through trophic and non-trophic community interactions. We believe that by using data from barcoding studies to identify bacterial symbionts, this extra, microbial dimension to insect food webs can be better elucidated. This article is part of the themed issue ‘From DNA barcodes to biomes’. PMID:27481779

  2. Insect symbionts in food webs.

    PubMed

    McLean, Ailsa H C; Parker, Benjamin J; Hrček, Jan; Henry, Lee M; Godfray, H Charles J

    2016-09-01

    Recent research has shown that the bacterial endosymbionts of insects are abundant and diverse, and that they have numerous different effects on their hosts' biology. Here we explore how insect endosymbionts might affect the structure and dynamics of insect communities. Using the obligate and facultative symbionts of aphids as an example, we find that there are multiple ways that symbiont presence might affect food web structure. Many symbionts are now known to help their hosts escape or resist natural enemy attack, and others can allow their hosts to withstand abiotic stress or affect host plant use. In addition to the direct effect of symbionts on aphid phenotypes there may be indirect effects mediated through trophic and non-trophic community interactions. We believe that by using data from barcoding studies to identify bacterial symbionts, this extra, microbial dimension to insect food webs can be better elucidated.This article is part of the themed issue 'From DNA barcodes to biomes'.

  3. Insect symbionts in food webs.

    PubMed

    McLean, Ailsa H C; Parker, Benjamin J; Hrček, Jan; Henry, Lee M; Godfray, H Charles J

    2016-09-01

    Recent research has shown that the bacterial endosymbionts of insects are abundant and diverse, and that they have numerous different effects on their hosts' biology. Here we explore how insect endosymbionts might affect the structure and dynamics of insect communities. Using the obligate and facultative symbionts of aphids as an example, we find that there are multiple ways that symbiont presence might affect food web structure. Many symbionts are now known to help their hosts escape or resist natural enemy attack, and others can allow their hosts to withstand abiotic stress or affect host plant use. In addition to the direct effect of symbionts on aphid phenotypes there may be indirect effects mediated through trophic and non-trophic community interactions. We believe that by using data from barcoding studies to identify bacterial symbionts, this extra, microbial dimension to insect food webs can be better elucidated.This article is part of the themed issue 'From DNA barcodes to biomes'. PMID:27481779

  4. Where are the parasites in food webs?

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    This review explores some of the reasons why food webs seem to contain relatively few parasite species when compared to the full diversity of free living species in the system. At present, there are few coherent food web theories to guide scientific studies on parasites, and this review posits that the methods, directions and questions in the field of food web ecology are not always congruent with parasitological inquiry. For example, topological analysis (the primary tool in food web studies) focuses on only one of six important steps in trematode life cycles, each of which requires a stable community dynamic to evolve. In addition, these transmission strategies may also utilize pathways within the food web that are not considered in traditional food web investigations. It is asserted that more effort must be focused on parasite-centric models, and a central theme is that many different approaches will be required. One promising approach is the old energetic perspective, which considers energy as the critical resource for all organisms, and the currency of all food web interactions. From the parasitological point of view, energy can be used to characterize the roles of parasites at all levels in the food web, from individuals to populations to community. The literature on parasite energetics in food webs is very sparse, but the evidence suggests that parasite species richness is low in food webs because parasites are limited by the quantity of energy available to their unique lifestyles. PMID:23092160

  5. Where are the parasites in food webs?

    PubMed

    Sukhdeo, Michael V K

    2012-01-01

    This review explores some of the reasons why food webs seem to contain relatively few parasite species when compared to the full diversity of free living species in the system. At present, there are few coherent food web theories to guide scientific studies on parasites, and this review posits that the methods, directions and questions in the field of food web ecology are not always congruent with parasitological inquiry. For example, topological analysis (the primary tool in food web studies) focuses on only one of six important steps in trematode life cycles, each of which requires a stable community dynamic to evolve. In addition, these transmission strategies may also utilize pathways within the food web that are not considered in traditional food web investigations. It is asserted that more effort must be focused on parasite-centric models, and a central theme is that many different approaches will be required. One promising approach is the old energetic perspective, which considers energy as the critical resource for all organisms, and the currency of all food web interactions. From the parasitological point of view, energy can be used to characterize the roles of parasites at all levels in the food web, from individuals to populations to community. The literature on parasite energetics in food webs is very sparse, but the evidence suggests that parasite species richness is low in food webs because parasites are limited by the quantity of energy available to their unique lifestyles.

  6. Phytoplankton fuels Delta food web

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jassby, Alan D.; Cloern, James E.; Muller-Solger, A. B.

    2003-01-01

    Populations of certain fishes and invertebrates in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have declined in abundance in recent decades and there is evidence that food supply is partly responsible. While many sources of organic matter in the Delta could be supporting fish populations indirectly through the food web (including aquatic vegetation and decaying organic matter from agricultural drainage), a careful accounting shows that phytoplankton is the dominant food source. Phytoplankton, communities of microscopic free-floating algae, are the most important food source on a Delta-wide scale when both food quantity and quality are taken into account. These microscopic algae have declined since the late 1960s. Fertilizer and pesticide runoff do not appear to be playing a direct role in long-term phytoplankton changes; rather, species invasions, increasing water transparency and fluctuations in water transport are responsible. Although the potential toxicity of herbicides and pesticides to plank- ton in the Delta is well documented, the ecological significance remains speculative. Nutrient inputs from agricultural runoff at current levels, in combination with increasing transparency, could result in harmful al- gal blooms. 

  7. Dynamics of Simple Food Webs.

    PubMed

    Gedeon, Tomas; Murphy, Patrick

    2015-10-01

    We consider a simple food web with commensal relationship, where organisms utilize both external resources and resources produced by other organisms. We show that in such a community with no competition, there is at most one possible equilibrium for each fixed set of surviving species, and develop a natural condition that determines which species survive based on available resource. Our main result shows that among all possible communities described by equilibria, the one which is stable has the largest number of surviving species and largest combined biomass and hence maximizes utilization of available resources.

  8. Drought rewires the cores of food webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lu, Xueke; Gray, Clare; Brown, Lee E.; Ledger, Mark E.; Milner, Alexander M.; Mondragón, Raúl J.; Woodward, Guy; Ma, Athen

    2016-09-01

    Droughts are intensifying across the globe, with potentially devastating implications for freshwater ecosystems. We used new network science approaches to investigate drought impacts on stream food webs and explored potential consequences for web robustness to future perturbations. The substructure of the webs was characterized by a core of richly connected species surrounded by poorly connected peripheral species. Although drought caused the partial collapse of the food webs, the loss of the most extinction-prone peripheral species triggered a substantial rewiring of interactions within the networks’ cores. These shifts in species interactions in the core conserved the underlying core/periphery substructure and stability of the drought-impacted webs. When we subsequently perturbed the webs by simulating species loss in silico, the rewired drought webs were as robust as the larger, undisturbed webs. Our research unearths previously unknown compensatory dynamics arising from within the core that could underpin food web stability in the face of environmental perturbations.

  9. Parasites in marine food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lafferty, Kevin D.

    2013-01-01

    Most species interactions probably involve parasites. This review considers the extent to which marine ecologists should consider parasites to fully understand marine communities. Parasites are influential parts of food webs in estuaries, temperate reefs, and coral reefs, but their ecological importance is seldom recognized. Though difficult to observe, parasites can have substantial biomass, and they can be just as common as free-living consumers after controlling for body mass and trophic level. Parasites have direct impacts on the energetics of their hosts and some affect host behaviors, with ecosystem-level consequences. Although they cause disease, parasites are sensitive components of ecosystems. In particular, they suffer secondary extinctions due to biodiversity loss. Some parasites can also return to a system after habitat restoration. For these reasons, parasites can make good indicators of ecosystem integrity. Fishing can indirectly increase or decrease parasite populations and the effects of climate change on parasites are likely to be equally as complex.

  10. The dynamics of assembling food webs.

    PubMed

    Fahimipour, Ashkaan K; Hein, Andrew M

    2014-05-01

    Community assembly is central to ecology, yet ecologists have amassed little quantitative information about how food webs assemble. Theory holds that colonisation rate is a primary driver of community assembly. We present new data from a mesocosm experiment to test the hypothesis that colonisation rate also determines the assembly dynamics of food webs. By manipulating colonisation rate and measuring webs through time, we show how colonisation rate governs structural changes during assembly. Webs experiencing different colonisation rates had stable topologies despite significant species turnover, suggesting that some features of network architecture emerge early and change little through assembly. But webs experiencing low colonisation rates showed less variation in the magnitudes of trophic fluxes, and were less likely to develop coupled fast and slow resource channels--a common feature of published webs. Our results reveal that food web structure develops according to repeatable trajectories that are strongly influenced by colonisation rate.

  11. Food Web Topology in High Mountain Lakes.

    PubMed

    Sánchez-Hernández, Javier; Cobo, Fernando; Amundsen, Per-Arne

    2015-01-01

    Although diversity and limnology of alpine lake systems are well studied, their food web structure and properties have rarely been addressed. Here, the topological food webs of three high mountain lakes in Central Spain were examined. We first addressed the pelagic networks of the lakes, and then we explored how food web topology changed when benthic biota was included to establish complete trophic networks. We conducted a literature search to compare our alpine lacustrine food webs and their structural metrics with those of 18 published lentic webs using a meta-analytic approach. The comparison revealed that the food webs in alpine lakes are relatively simple, in terms of structural network properties (linkage density and connectance), in comparison with lowland lakes, but no great differences were found among pelagic networks. The studied high mountain food webs were dominated by a high proportion of omnivores and species at intermediate trophic levels. Omnivores can exploit resources at multiple trophic levels, and this characteristic might reduce competition among interacting species. Accordingly, the trophic overlap, measured as trophic similarity, was very low in all three systems. Thus, these alpine networks are characterized by many omnivorous consumers with numerous prey species and few consumers with a single or few prey and with low competitive interactions among species. The present study emphasizes the ecological significance of omnivores in high mountain lakes as promoters of network stability and as central players in energy flow pathways via food partitioning and enabling energy mobility among trophic levels. PMID:26571235

  12. Food Web Topology in High Mountain Lakes.

    PubMed

    Sánchez-Hernández, Javier; Cobo, Fernando; Amundsen, Per-Arne

    2015-01-01

    Although diversity and limnology of alpine lake systems are well studied, their food web structure and properties have rarely been addressed. Here, the topological food webs of three high mountain lakes in Central Spain were examined. We first addressed the pelagic networks of the lakes, and then we explored how food web topology changed when benthic biota was included to establish complete trophic networks. We conducted a literature search to compare our alpine lacustrine food webs and their structural metrics with those of 18 published lentic webs using a meta-analytic approach. The comparison revealed that the food webs in alpine lakes are relatively simple, in terms of structural network properties (linkage density and connectance), in comparison with lowland lakes, but no great differences were found among pelagic networks. The studied high mountain food webs were dominated by a high proportion of omnivores and species at intermediate trophic levels. Omnivores can exploit resources at multiple trophic levels, and this characteristic might reduce competition among interacting species. Accordingly, the trophic overlap, measured as trophic similarity, was very low in all three systems. Thus, these alpine networks are characterized by many omnivorous consumers with numerous prey species and few consumers with a single or few prey and with low competitive interactions among species. The present study emphasizes the ecological significance of omnivores in high mountain lakes as promoters of network stability and as central players in energy flow pathways via food partitioning and enabling energy mobility among trophic levels.

  13. Food Web Topology in High Mountain Lakes

    PubMed Central

    Sánchez-Hernández, Javier; Cobo, Fernando; Amundsen, Per-Arne

    2015-01-01

    Although diversity and limnology of alpine lake systems are well studied, their food web structure and properties have rarely been addressed. Here, the topological food webs of three high mountain lakes in Central Spain were examined. We first addressed the pelagic networks of the lakes, and then we explored how food web topology changed when benthic biota was included to establish complete trophic networks. We conducted a literature search to compare our alpine lacustrine food webs and their structural metrics with those of 18 published lentic webs using a meta-analytic approach. The comparison revealed that the food webs in alpine lakes are relatively simple, in terms of structural network properties (linkage density and connectance), in comparison with lowland lakes, but no great differences were found among pelagic networks. The studied high mountain food webs were dominated by a high proportion of omnivores and species at intermediate trophic levels. Omnivores can exploit resources at multiple trophic levels, and this characteristic might reduce competition among interacting species. Accordingly, the trophic overlap, measured as trophic similarity, was very low in all three systems. Thus, these alpine networks are characterized by many omnivorous consumers with numerous prey species and few consumers with a single or few prey and with low competitive interactions among species. The present study emphasizes the ecological significance of omnivores in high mountain lakes as promoters of network stability and as central players in energy flow pathways via food partitioning and enabling energy mobility among trophic levels. PMID:26571235

  14. Food webs: experts consuming families of experts.

    PubMed

    Rossberg, A G; Matsuda, H; Amemiya, T; Itoh, K

    2006-08-01

    Food webs of habitats as diverse as lakes or desert valleys are known to exhibit common "food-web patterns", but the detailed mechanisms generating these structures have remained unclear. By employing a stochastic, dynamical model, we show that many aspects of the structure of predatory food webs can be understood as the traces of an evolutionary history where newly evolving species avoid direct competition with their relatives. The tendency to avoid sharing natural enemies (apparent competition) with related species is considerably weaker. Thus, "experts consuming families of experts" can be identified as the main underlying food-web pattern. We report the results of a systematic, quantitative model validation showing that the model is surprisingly accurate.

  15. Food Chain to Food Web: A Natural Progression?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Webb, Paul; Boltt, Gill

    1990-01-01

    Investigated is the ability of high school pupils and university students to answer questions based on relationships within food webs using sound ecological principles. Research methods used and the results of this study are discussed. (CW)

  16. Simple Rules Yield Complex Food Webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martinez, Neo

    2003-03-01

    Several of the most ambitious theories in ecology describe food webs that document the structure of strong and weak trophic links among diverse assemblages of species. Early mechanism-based theory asserted that food webs have little omnivory and several properties that are independent of species richness. This theory was overturned by empirical studies that found food webs to be much more complex, but these studies did not provide mechanistic explanations for the complexity. Here we show that a remarkably simple model fills this scientific void by successfully predicting key structural properties of the most complex and comprehensive food webs in the primary literature. These properties include the fractions of species at top, intermediate and basal trophic levels, the means and variabilities of generality, vulnerability and food-chain length, and the degrees of cannibalism, omnivory, looping and trophic similarity. More recent tests using an expanded empirical base show that our model also successfully predicts the degrees of separation, degree distributions, and sensitivities to error and attack found in large complex food webs. Using only two empirical parameters, species number and connectance, our `niche model' extends the existing `cascade model' and improves its fit by constraining species to consume a contiguous sequence of prey in a one-dimensional trophic niche. The simplicity and success of the model has allowed new advances in the combined study of the structure and nonlinear dynamics of ecological networks.

  17. Parasites in the Wadden Sea food web

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thieltges, David W.; Engelsma, Marc Y.; Wendling, Carolin C.; Wegner, K. Mathias

    2013-09-01

    While the free-living fauna of the Wadden Sea has received much interest, little is known on the distribution and effects of parasites in the Wadden Sea food web. However, recent studies on this special type of trophic interaction indicate a high diversity of parasites in the Wadden Sea and suggest a multitude of effects on the hosts. This also includes effects on specific predator-prey relationships and the general structure of the food web. Focussing on molluscs, a major group in the Wadden Sea in terms of biomass and abundance and an important link between primary producers and predators, we review existing studies and exemplify the ecological role of parasites in the Wadden Sea food web. First, we give a brief inventory of parasites occurring in the Wadden Sea, ranging from microparasites (e.g. protozoa, bacteria) to macroparasites (e.g. helminths, parasitic copepods) and discuss the effects of spatial scale on heterogeneities in infection levels. We then demonstrate how parasites can affect host population dynamics by acting as a strong mortality factor, causing mollusc mass mortalities. In addition, we will exemplify how parasites can mediate the interaction strength of predator-prey relationships and affect the topological structure of the Wadden Sea food web as a whole. Finally, we highlight some ongoing changes regarding parasitism in the Wadden Sea in the course of global change (e.g. species introduction, climate change) and identify important future research questions to entangle the role of parasites in the Wadden Sea food web.

  18. Nutrient dynamics and food-web stability

    SciTech Connect

    DeAngelis, D.L.; Mulholland, P.J.; Palumbo, A.V.; Steinman, A.D.; Huston, M.A.; Elwood, J.W. )

    1989-01-01

    The importance of nutrient limitation and recycling in ecosystems is widely recognized. Nutrients, defined in the broad sense as all material elements vital to biological functions, are in such small supply that they limit production in many ecosystems. Such limitation can affect ecosystem properties, including the structure and dynamics of the food webs that link species through their feeding relationships. What are the effects of limiting nutrients on the stability of ecosystem food webs Most of the literature on food web stability centers around the dynamics of population numbers and/or biomasses. Nevertheless, a growing body of theoretical and empirical research considers the role that both nutrient limitation and recycling can play in stability. In this paper, it is the authors objective to summarize the current understanding of several important types of stability. The theoretical and empirical evidence relating these types of stability and nutrient cycling is described. A central generalization is produced in each case.

  19. Stability of a model food web.

    PubMed

    Szwabiński, Janusz; Pekalski, Andrzej

    2009-02-01

    We investigate numerically the stability of a model food web, introduced by Nunes Amaral and Meyer [Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 652 (1999)]. The model describes a system of species located in niches at several levels. Upper level species are predating on those from a lower level. We show that the model web is more stable when it is larger, although the number of niches is more important than the number of levels. The food web is self-organizing itself, trying to reach a certain degree of complexity, i.e., number of species and links among them. If the system cannot achieve this state, it will go extinct. We demonstrate that the average number of links per species and the reduced number of species depend in the same way on the number of niches. We also determine how the stability of the food web depends on another parameter of the model, the killing probability. Despite keeping the ratio of the creation and killing probabilities constant, increasing the latter reduces significantly the stability of the model food web. We show that connectance dependence on the number of niches has a power-type character, which agrees with the field data, and that it decreases with the number of species also as a power-type function.

  20. Simple rules yield complex food webs.

    PubMed

    Williams, R J; Martinez, N D

    2000-03-01

    Several of the most ambitious theories in ecology describe food webs that document the structure of strong and weak trophic links that is responsible for ecological dynamics among diverse assemblages of species. Early mechanism-based theory asserted that food webs have little omnivory and several properties that are independent of species richness. This theory was overturned by empirical studies that found food webs to be much more complex, but these studies did not provide mechanistic explanations for the complexity. Here we show that a remarkably simple model fills this scientific void by successfully predicting key structural properties of the most complex and comprehensive food webs in the primary literature. These properties include the fractions of species at top, intermediate and basal trophic levels, the means and variabilities of generality, vulnerability and food-chain length, and the degrees of cannibalism, omnivory, looping and trophic similarity. Using only two empirical parameters, species number and connectance, our 'niche model' extends the existing 'cascade model and improves its fit ten-fold by constraining species to consume a contiguous sequence of prey in a one-dimensional trophic niche. PMID:10724169

  1. Simple rules yield complex food webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williams, Richard J.; Martinez, Neo D.

    2000-03-01

    Several of the most ambitious theories in ecology describe food webs that document the structure of strong and weak trophic links that is responsible for ecological dynamics among diverse assemblages of species. Early mechanism-based theory asserted that food webs have little omnivory and several properties that are independent of species richness. This theory was overturned by empirical studies that found food webs to be much more complex, but these studies did not provide mechanistic explanations for the complexity. Here we show that a remarkably simple model fills this scientific void by successfully predicting key structural properties of the most complex and comprehensive food webs in the primary literature. These properties include the fractions of species at top, intermediate and basal trophic levels, the means and variabilities of generality, vulnerability and food-chain length, and the degrees of cannibalism, omnivory, looping and trophic similarity. Using only two empirical parameters, species number and connectance, our `niche model' extends the existing `cascade model' and improves its fit ten-fold by constraining species to consume a contiguous sequence of prey in a one-dimensional trophic niche.

  2. Food Webs in an Estuary.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Dunne, Barbara B.

    The Maryland Marine Science Education Project has produced a series of mini-units in marine science education for the junior high/middle school classroom. This unit focuses on food chains in an estuary. Although the unit specifically treats the Chesapeake Bay, it may be adapted for use with similar estuarine systems. In addition, the unit may be…

  3. Linking structure and function in food webs: maximization of different ecological functions generates distinct food web structures.

    PubMed

    Yen, Jian D L; Cabral, Reniel B; Cantor, Mauricio; Hatton, Ian; Kortsch, Susanne; Patrício, Joana; Yamamichi, Masato

    2016-03-01

    Trophic interactions are central to ecosystem functioning, but the link between food web structure and ecosystem functioning remains obscure. Regularities (i.e. consistent patterns) in food web structure suggest the possibility of regularities in ecosystem functioning, which might be used to relate structure to function. We introduce a novel, genetic algorithm approach to simulate food webs with maximized throughput (a proxy for ecosystem functioning) and compare the structure of these simulated food webs to real empirical food webs using common metrics of food web structure. We repeat this analysis using robustness to secondary extinctions (a proxy for ecosystem resilience) instead of throughput to determine the relative contributions of ecosystem functioning and ecosystem resilience to food web structure. Simulated food webs that maximized robustness were similar to real food webs when connectance (i.e. levels of interaction across the food web) was high, but this result did not extend to food webs with low connectance. Simulated food webs that maximized throughput or a combination of throughput and robustness were not similar to any real food webs. Simulated maximum-throughput food webs differed markedly from maximum-robustness food webs, which suggests that maximizing different ecological functions can generate distinct food web structures. Based on our results, food web structure would appear to have a stronger relationship with ecosystem resilience than with ecosystem throughput. Our genetic algorithm approach is general and is well suited to large, realistically complex food webs. Genetic algorithms can incorporate constraints on structure and can generate outputs that can be compared directly to empirical data. Our method can be used to explore a range of maximization or minimization hypotheses, providing new perspectives on the links between structure and function in ecological systems.

  4. DEEPWATER AND NEARSHORE FOOD WEB CHARACTERIZATIONS IN LAKE SUPERIOR

    EPA Science Inventory

    Due to the difficulty associated with sampling deep aquatic systems, food web relationships among deepwater fauna are often poorly known. We are characterizing nearshore versus offshore habitats in the Great Lakes and investigating food web linkages among profundal, pelagic, and ...

  5. Trophic coherence determines food-web stability

    PubMed Central

    Johnson, Samuel; Domínguez-García, Virginia; Donetti, Luca; Muñoz, Miguel A.

    2014-01-01

    Why are large, complex ecosystems stable? Both theory and simulations of current models predict the onset of instability with growing size and complexity, so for decades it has been conjectured that ecosystems must have some unidentified structural property exempting them from this outcome. We show that trophic coherence—a hitherto ignored feature of food webs that current structural models fail to reproduce—is a better statistical predictor of linear stability than size or complexity. Furthermore, we prove that a maximally coherent network with constant interaction strengths will always be linearly stable. We also propose a simple model that, by correctly capturing the trophic coherence of food webs, accurately reproduces their stability and other basic structural features. Most remarkably, our model shows that stability can increase with size and complexity. This suggests a key to May’s paradox, and a range of opportunities and concerns for biodiversity conservation. PMID:25468963

  6. Trophic coherence determines food-web stability.

    PubMed

    Johnson, Samuel; Domínguez-García, Virginia; Donetti, Luca; Muñoz, Miguel A

    2014-12-16

    Why are large, complex ecosystems stable? Both theory and simulations of current models predict the onset of instability with growing size and complexity, so for decades it has been conjectured that ecosystems must have some unidentified structural property exempting them from this outcome. We show that trophic coherence--a hitherto ignored feature of food webs that current structural models fail to reproduce--is a better statistical predictor of linear stability than size or complexity. Furthermore, we prove that a maximally coherent network with constant interaction strengths will always be linearly stable. We also propose a simple model that, by correctly capturing the trophic coherence of food webs, accurately reproduces their stability and other basic structural features. Most remarkably, our model shows that stability can increase with size and complexity. This suggests a key to May's paradox, and a range of opportunities and concerns for biodiversity conservation.

  7. Trophic coherence determines food-web stability.

    PubMed

    Johnson, Samuel; Domínguez-García, Virginia; Donetti, Luca; Muñoz, Miguel A

    2014-12-16

    Why are large, complex ecosystems stable? Both theory and simulations of current models predict the onset of instability with growing size and complexity, so for decades it has been conjectured that ecosystems must have some unidentified structural property exempting them from this outcome. We show that trophic coherence--a hitherto ignored feature of food webs that current structural models fail to reproduce--is a better statistical predictor of linear stability than size or complexity. Furthermore, we prove that a maximally coherent network with constant interaction strengths will always be linearly stable. We also propose a simple model that, by correctly capturing the trophic coherence of food webs, accurately reproduces their stability and other basic structural features. Most remarkably, our model shows that stability can increase with size and complexity. This suggests a key to May's paradox, and a range of opportunities and concerns for biodiversity conservation. PMID:25468963

  8. Food web models: a plea for groups.

    PubMed

    Allesina, Stefano; Pascual, Mercedes

    2009-07-01

    The concept of a group is ubiquitous in biology. It underlies classifications in evolution and ecology, including those used to describe phylogenetic levels, the habitat and functional roles of organisms in ecosystems. Surprisingly, this concept is not explicitly included in simple models for the structure of food webs, the ecological networks formed by consumer-resource interactions. We present here the simplest possible model based on groups, and show that it performs substantially better than current models at predicting the structure of large food webs. Our group-based model can be applied to different types of biological and non-biological networks, and for the first time merges in the same framework two important notions in network theory: that of compartments (sets of highly interacting nodes) and that of roles (sets of nodes that have similar interaction patterns). This model provides a basis to examine the significance of groups in biological networks and to develop more accurate models for ecological network structure. It is especially relevant at a time when a new generation of empirical data is providing increasingly large food webs.

  9. Ecological food web analysis for chemical risk assessment.

    PubMed

    Preziosi, Damian V; Pastorok, Robert A

    2008-12-01

    Food web analysis can be a critical component of ecological risk assessment, yet it has received relatively little attention among risk assessors. Food web data are currently used in modeling bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals and, to a limited extent, in the determination of the ecological significance of risks. Achieving more realism in ecological risk assessments requires new analysis tools and models that incorporate accurate information on key receptors in a food web paradigm. Application of food web analysis in risk assessments demands consideration of: 1) different kinds of food webs; 2) definition of trophic guilds; 3) variation in food webs with habitat, space, and time; and 4) issues for basic sampling design and collection of dietary data. The different kinds of food webs include connectance webs, materials flow webs, and functional (or interaction) webs. These three kinds of webs play different roles throughout various phases of an ecological risk assessment, but risk assessors have failed to distinguish among web types. When modeling food webs, choices must be made regarding the level of complexity for the web, assignment of species to trophic guilds, selection of representative species for guilds, use of average diets, the characterization of variation among individuals or guild members within a web, and the spatial and temporal scales/dynamics of webs. Integrating exposure and effects data in ecological models for risk assessment of toxic chemicals relies on coupling food web analysis with bioaccumulation models (e.g., Gobas-type models for fish and their food webs), wildlife exposure models, dose-response models, and population dynamics models. PMID:18703218

  10. Parasites in food webs: the ultimate missing links

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lafferty, Kevin D.; Allesina, Stefano; Arim, Matias; Briggs, Cherie J.; De Leo, Giulio A.; Dobson, Andrew P.; Dunne, Jennifer A.; Johnson, Pieter T.J.; Kuris, Armand M.; Marcogliese, David J.; Martinez, Neo D.; Memmott, Jane; Marquet, Pablo A.; McLaughlin, John P.; Mordecai, Eerin A.; Pascual, Mercedes; Poulin, Robert; Thieltges, David W.

    2008-01-01

    Parasitism is the most common consumer strategy among organisms, yet only recently has there been a call for the inclusion of infectious disease agents in food webs. The value of this effort hinges on whether parasites affect food-web properties. Increasing evidence suggests that parasites have the potential to uniquely alter food-web topology in terms of chain length, connectance and robustness. In addition, parasites might affect food-web stability, interaction strength and energy flow. Food-web structure also affects infectious disease dynamics because parasites depend on the ecological networks in which they live. Empirically, incorporating parasites into food webs is straightforward. We may start with existing food webs and add parasites as nodes, or we may try to build food webs around systems for which we already have a good understanding of infectious processes. In the future, perhaps researchers will add parasites while they construct food webs. Less clear is how food-web theory can accommodate parasites. This is a deep and central problem in theoretical biology and applied mathematics. For instance, is representing parasites with complex life cycles as a single node equivalent to representing other species with ontogenetic niche shifts as a single node? Can parasitism fit into fundamental frameworks such as the niche model? Can we integrate infectious disease models into the emerging field of dynamic food-web modelling? Future progress will benefit from interdisciplinary collaborations between ecologists and infectious disease biologists.

  11. Evolutionary emergence of size-structured food webs.

    PubMed

    Loeuille, Nicolas; Loreau, Michel

    2005-04-19

    Explaining the structure of terrestrial and aquatic food webs remains one of the most important challenges of ecological theory. Most existing models use emergent properties of food webs, such as diversity and connectance as parameters, to determine other food-web descriptors. Lower-level processes, in particular adaptation (whether by behavioral, developmental, or evolutionary mechanisms), are usually not considered. Here, we show that complex, realistic food webs may emerge by evolution from a single ancestor based on very simple ecological and evolutionary rules. In our model, adaptation acts on body size, whose impact on the metabolism and interactions of organisms is well established. Based on parameters defined at the organism scale, the model predicts emergent properties at the food-web scale. Variations of two key parameters (width of consumption niche and competition intensity) allow very different food-web structures and functionings to emerge, which are similar to those observed in some of the best-documented food webs.

  12. Food web model with detritus path

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Szwabiński, Janusz; Pękalski, Andrzej; Bena, Ioana; Droz, Michel

    2010-07-01

    We present and study a lattice (Monte Carlo) model of a food web consisting of three levels. Agents on the lowest level produce food from dead agents (detritus) of the upper levels and are themselves eaten by the first level species, which in turn are prey for the top level species. Agents which do not find food in a given time, die with a given probability, while eating enables them to produce offspring in their neighborhood. This rule applies to species on all levels, including the lowest one. The dynamics is therefore nutrient limited. We are considering two pathways - grazers and detritus (using dead organic matter). We show that the emerging dynamics is more complex than the ordinary predator-prey systems in which bottom species are indestructible. We investigate the viability of our model and we construct appropriate (extinct-alive) phase diagrams. We demonstrate how the temporal fluctuations in the densities of the three populations are correlated. We show also that the density of the middle level agents plays the key role in the viability of the investigated food web.

  13. Geo-Spatial Browse and Distribution of NSF-OPP's Antarctic Ice and Climate Data via the Web: Antarctic Cryosphere Access Portal (A-CAP)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bauer, R.; Scambos, T.; Haran, T.; Maurer, J.; Bohlander, J.

    2008-12-01

    A prototype of the Antarctic Cryosphere Access Portal (A-CAP) has been released for public use. Developed at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) Antarctic Glaciological Data Center (AGDC), A-CAP aims to be a geo-visualization and data download tool for AGDC data and other Antarctic-wide parameters, including glaciology, ice core data, snow accumulation, satellite imagery, digital elevation models (DEMs), sea ice concentration, and many other cryosphere-related scientific measurements. The user can zoom in to a specific region as well as overlay coastlines, placenames, latitude/longitude, and other geographic information. In addition to providing an interactive Web interface, customizable A-CAP map images and source data are also accessible via specific Uniform Resource Locator strings (URLs) to a standard suite of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) services: Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), and Web Coverage Service (WCS). The international specifications of these services provide an interoperable framework for sharing maps and geospatial data over the Internet, allowing A-CAP products to be easily exchanged with other data centers worldwide and enabling remote access for users through OGC-compliant software applications such as ArcGIS, Google Earth, ENVI, and many others. A-CAP is built on MapServer, an Open Source development environment for building spatially-enabled Internet applications. MapServer uses data sets that have been formatted as GeoTIFF or Shapefile to allow rapid sub-setting and over-the-Web presentation of large geospatial data files, and has no requirement for a user-installed client software package (besides a Web browser).

  14. Current trends in food web theory report on a food web workshop. Environmental Sciences Division Publication No. 2224

    SciTech Connect

    DeAngelis, D.L.; Post, W.M.; Sugihara, G.

    1983-10-01

    This report summarizes the Food Web Workshop, held at Fontana Village Inn, October 25-27, 1982. The objective of the workshop was to review and assess recent progress in the understanding of ecological food webs. The workshop focused on three main areas: (1) what has been observed of food web patterns (food chain length, intervality, predator-prey ratios, etc.), (2) processes involved in food chains (energy flow and nutrient cycles), and (3) the dynamic behavior of food webs (Lyapunov stability, resilience, etc.). The introduction reviews some of the important contributions to food web theory during the past decade. The synopses of the presentations by invited speakers address many of the specific themes in current thought on food webs.

  15. Warming and Resource Availability Shift Food Web Structure and Metabolism

    PubMed Central

    O'Connor, Mary I.; Piehler, Michael F.; Leech, Dina M.; Anton, Andrea; Bruno, John F.

    2009-01-01

    Climate change disrupts ecological systems in many ways. Many documented responses depend on species' life histories, contributing to the view that climate change effects are important but difficult to characterize generally. However, systematic variation in metabolic effects of temperature across trophic levels suggests that warming may lead to predictable shifts in food web structure and productivity. We experimentally tested the effects of warming on food web structure and productivity under two resource supply scenarios. Consistent with predictions based on universal metabolic responses to temperature, we found that warming strengthened consumer control of primary production when resources were augmented. Warming shifted food web structure and reduced total biomass despite increases in primary productivity in a marine food web. In contrast, at lower resource levels, food web production was constrained at all temperatures. These results demonstrate that small temperature changes could dramatically shift food web dynamics and provide a general, species-independent mechanism for ecological response to environmental temperature change. PMID:19707271

  16. Simulation approach to understanding the processes that structure food webs

    SciTech Connect

    Jager, H.I.; Gardner, R.H.; DeAngelis, D.L.; Post, W.M.

    1984-08-01

    A simulation model of food web dynamics, WEB, was constructed and used in Monte Carlo experiments to study the relationship between structure and function in food webs. Four main experiments were designed using WEB. The first tested the robustness of food web structures at equilibrium to variations in the functional response of predators in the food web to the densities of their prey. The second experiment clarified the roles of predation and resource limitation in the process of structuring food webs. A third experiment studied the influence of productivity on food web structure and function using simulated food webs. The final experiment was designed to study the differential successes of generalists and specialists. The main advantage gained by using a simulation approach in each of these experiments was the ability to assess the roles played by processes of predation and competition in structuring model food webs. This was accomplished by interpreting the order of extinction events that occurred in the simulations and relating these to the species configurations at equilibrium. 61 references, 23 figures.

  17. Consequences of symbiosis for food web dynamics.

    PubMed

    Kooi, B W; Kuijper, L D J; Kooijman, S A L M

    2004-09-01

    Basic Lotka-Volterra type models in which mutualism (a type of symbiosis where the two populations benefit both) is taken into account, may give unbounded solutions. We exclude such behaviour using explicit mass balances and study the consequences of symbiosis for the long-term dynamic behaviour of a three species system, two prey and one predator species in the chemostat. We compose a theoretical food web where a predator feeds on two prey species that have a symbiotic relationships. In addition to a species-specific resource, the two prey populations consume the products of the partner population as well. In turn, a common predator forages on these prey populations. The temporal change in the biomass and the nutrient densities in the reactor is described by ordinary differential equations (ODE). Since products are recycled, the dynamics of these abiotic materials must be taken into account as well, and they are described by odes in a similar way as the abiotic nutrients. We use numerical bifurcation analysis to assess the long-term dynamic behaviour for varying degrees of symbiosis. Attractors can be equilibria, limit cycles and chaotic attractors depending on the control parameters of the chemostat reactor. These control parameters that can be experimentally manipulated are the nutrient density of the inflow medium and the dilution rate. Bifurcation diagrams for the three species web with a facultative symbiotic association between the two prey populations, are similar to that of a bi-trophic food chain; nutrient enrichment leads to oscillatory behaviour. Predation combined with obligatory symbiotic prey-interactions has a stabilizing effect, that is, there is stable coexistence in a larger part of the parameter space than for a bi-trophic food chain. However, combined with a large growth rate of the predator, the food web can persist only in a relatively small region of the parameter space. Then, two zero-pair bifurcation points are the organizing centers. In

  18. Characteristics of Food Industry Web Sites and "Advergames" Targeting Children

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Culp, Jennifer; Bell, Robert A.; Cassady, Diana

    2010-01-01

    Objective: To assess the content of food industry Web sites targeting children by describing strategies used to prolong their visits and foster brand loyalty; and to document health-promoting messages on these Web sites. Design: A content analysis was conducted of Web sites advertised on 2 children's networks, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. A…

  19. A "Bottom-Up" Approach to Food Web Construction

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Demetriou, Dorita; Korfiatis, Konstantinos; Constantinou, Constantinos

    2009-01-01

    The ability to comprehend trophic (nutritional) relationships and food web dynamics is an essential part of environmental literacy. However, students face severe difficulties in grasping the variety of causal patterns in food webs. We propose a curriculum for comprehending trophic relations in elementary school. The curriculum allows students to…

  20. A role for brain size and cognition in food webs.

    PubMed

    Edmunds, Nicholas B; Laberge, Frédéric; McCann, Kevin S

    2016-08-01

    Predators tend to be large and mobile, enabling them to forage in spatially distinct food web compartments (e.g. littoral and pelagic aquatic macrohabitats). This feature can stabilise ecosystems when predators are capable of rapid behavioural response to changing resource conditions in distinct habitat compartments. However, what provides this ability to respond behaviourally has not been quantified. We hypothesised that predators require increased cognitive abilities to occupy their position in a food web, which puts pressure to increase brain size. Consistent with food web theory, we found that fish relative brain size increased with increased ability to forage across macrohabitats and increased relative trophic positions in a lacustrine food web, indicating that larger brains may afford the cognitive capacity to exploit various habitats flexibly, thus contributing to the stability of whole food webs.

  1. Predicting the stability of large structured food webs.

    PubMed

    Allesina, Stefano; Grilli, Jacopo; Barabás, György; Tang, Si; Aljadeff, Johnatan; Maritan, Amos

    2015-01-01

    The stability of ecological systems has been a long-standing focus of ecology. Recently, tools from random matrix theory have identified the main drivers of stability in ecological communities whose network structure is random. However, empirical food webs differ greatly from random graphs. For example, their degree distribution is broader, they contain few trophic cycles, and they are almost interval. Here we derive an approximation for the stability of food webs whose structure is generated by the cascade model, in which 'larger' species consume 'smaller' ones. We predict the stability of these food webs with great accuracy, and our approximation also works well for food webs whose structure is determined empirically or by the niche model. We find that intervality and broad degree distributions tend to stabilize food webs, and that average interaction strength has little influence on stability, compared with the effect of variance and correlation. PMID:26198207

  2. Predicting the stability of large structured food webs

    PubMed Central

    Allesina, Stefano; Grilli, Jacopo; Barabás, György; Tang, Si; Aljadeff, Johnatan; Maritan, Amos

    2015-01-01

    The stability of ecological systems has been a long-standing focus of ecology. Recently, tools from random matrix theory have identified the main drivers of stability in ecological communities whose network structure is random. However, empirical food webs differ greatly from random graphs. For example, their degree distribution is broader, they contain few trophic cycles, and they are almost interval. Here we derive an approximation for the stability of food webs whose structure is generated by the cascade model, in which ‘larger' species consume ‘smaller' ones. We predict the stability of these food webs with great accuracy, and our approximation also works well for food webs whose structure is determined empirically or by the niche model. We find that intervality and broad degree distributions tend to stabilize food webs, and that average interaction strength has little influence on stability, compared with the effect of variance and correlation. PMID:26198207

  3. Predicting the stability of large structured food webs.

    PubMed

    Allesina, Stefano; Grilli, Jacopo; Barabás, György; Tang, Si; Aljadeff, Johnatan; Maritan, Amos

    2015-07-22

    The stability of ecological systems has been a long-standing focus of ecology. Recently, tools from random matrix theory have identified the main drivers of stability in ecological communities whose network structure is random. However, empirical food webs differ greatly from random graphs. For example, their degree distribution is broader, they contain few trophic cycles, and they are almost interval. Here we derive an approximation for the stability of food webs whose structure is generated by the cascade model, in which 'larger' species consume 'smaller' ones. We predict the stability of these food webs with great accuracy, and our approximation also works well for food webs whose structure is determined empirically or by the niche model. We find that intervality and broad degree distributions tend to stabilize food webs, and that average interaction strength has little influence on stability, compared with the effect of variance and correlation.

  4. Soil food web changes during spontaneous succession at post mining sites: a possible ecosystem engineering effect on food web organization?

    PubMed

    Frouz, Jan; Thébault, Elisa; Pižl, Václav; Adl, Sina; Cajthaml, Tomáš; Baldrián, Petr; Háněl, Ladislav; Starý, Josef; Tajovský, Karel; Materna, Jan; Nováková, Alena; de Ruiter, Peter C

    2013-01-01

    Parameters characterizing the structure of the decomposer food web, biomass of the soil microflora (bacteria and fungi) and soil micro-, meso- and macrofauna were studied at 14 non-reclaimed 1- 41-year-old post-mining sites near the town of Sokolov (Czech Republic). These observations on the decomposer food webs were compared with knowledge of vegetation and soil microstructure development from previous studies. The amount of carbon entering the food web increased with succession age in a similar way as the total amount of C in food web biomass and the number of functional groups in the food web. Connectance did not show any significant changes with succession age, however. In early stages of the succession, the bacterial channel dominated the food web. Later on, in shrub-dominated stands, the fungal channel took over. Even later, in the forest stage, the bacterial channel prevailed again. The best predictor of fungal bacterial ratio is thickness of fermentation layer. We argue that these changes correspond with changes in topsoil microstructure driven by a combination of plant organic matter input and engineering effects of earthworms. In early stages, soil is alkaline, and a discontinuous litter layer on the soil surface promotes bacterial biomass growth, so the bacterial food web channel can dominate. Litter accumulation on the soil surface supports the development of the fungal channel. In older stages, earthworms arrive, mix litter into the mineral soil and form an organo-mineral topsoil, which is beneficial for bacteria and enhances the bacterial food web channel.

  5. Food Web Structure in a Harsh Glacier-Fed River

    PubMed Central

    Clitherow, Leonie R.; Carrivick, Jonathan L.; Brown, Lee E.

    2013-01-01

    Glacier retreat is occurring across the world, and associated river ecosystems are expected to respond more rapidly than those in flowing waters in other regions. The river environment directly downstream of a glacier snout is characterised by extreme low water temperature and unstable channel sediments but these habitats may become rarer with widespread glacier retreat. In these extreme environments food web dynamics have been little studied, yet they could offer opportunities to test food web theories using highly resolved food webs owing to their low taxonomic richness. This study examined the interactions of macroinvertebrate and diatom taxa in the Ödenwinkelkees river, Austrian central Alps between 2006 and 2011. The webs were characterised by low taxon richness (13–22), highly connected individuals (directed connectance up to 0.19) and short mean food chain length (2.00–2.36). The dominant macroinvertebrates were members of the Chironomidae genus Diamesa and had an omnivorous diet rich in detritus and diatoms as well as other Chironomidae. Simuliidae (typically detritivorous filterers) had a diet rich in diatoms but also showed evidence of predation on Chironomidae larvae. Food webs showed strong species-averaged and individual size structuring but mass-abundance scaling coefficients were larger than those predicted by metabolic theory, perhaps due to a combination of spatial averaging effects of patchily distributed consumers and resources, and/or consumers deriving unquantified resources from microorganisms attached to the large amounts of ingested rock fragments. Comparison of food web structural metrics with those from 62 published river webs suggest these glacier-fed river food web properties were extreme but in line with general food web scaling predictions, a finding which could prove useful to forecast the effects of anticipated future glacier retreat on the structure of aquatic food webs. PMID:23613751

  6. Food-web dynamics in a large river discontinuum

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Cross, Wyatt F.; Baxter, Colden V.; Rosi-Marshall, Emma J.; Hall, Robert O.; Kennedy, Theodore A.; Donner, Kevin C.; Kelly, Holly A. Wellard; Seegert, Sarah E.Z.; Behn, Kathrine E.; Yard, Michael D.

    2013-01-01

    Nearly all ecosystems have been altered by human activities, and most communities are now composed of interacting species that have not co-evolved. These changes may modify species interactions, energy and material flows, and food-web stability. Although structural changes to ecosystems have been widely reported, few studies have linked such changes to dynamic food-web attributes and patterns of energy flow. Moreover, there have been few tests of food-web stability theory in highly disturbed and intensely managed freshwater ecosystems. Such synthetic approaches are needed for predicting the future trajectory of ecosystems, including how they may respond to natural or anthropogenic perturbations. We constructed flow food webs at six locations along a 386-km segment of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon (Arizona, USA) for three years. We characterized food-web structure and production, trophic basis of production, energy efficiencies, and interaction-strength distributions across a spatial gradient of perturbation (i.e., distance from Glen Canyon Dam), as well as before and after an experimental flood. We found strong longitudinal patterns in food-web characteristics that strongly correlated with the spatial position of large tributaries. Above tributaries, food webs were dominated by nonnative New Zealand mudsnails (62% of production) and nonnative rainbow trout (100% of fish production). The simple structure of these food webs led to few dominant energy pathways (diatoms to few invertebrate taxa to rainbow trout), large energy inefficiencies (i.e., Below large tributaries, invertebrate production declined ∼18-fold, while fish production remained similar to upstream sites and comprised predominately native taxa (80–100% of production). Sites below large tributaries had increasingly reticulate and detritus-based food webs with a higher prevalence of omnivory, as well as interaction strength distributions more typical of theoretically stable food webs (i

  7. Food marketing on popular children's web sites: a content analysis.

    PubMed

    Alvy, Lisa M; Calvert, Sandra L

    2008-04-01

    In 2006 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that food marketing was a contributor to childhood obesity in the United States. One recommendation of the IOM committee was for research on newer marketing venues, such as Internet Web sites. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to answer the IOM's call by examining food marketing on popular children's Web sites. Ten Web sites were selected based on market research conducted by KidSay, which identified favorite sites of children aged 8 to 11 years during February 2005. Using a standardized coding form, these sites were examined page by page for the existence, type, and features of food marketing. Web sites were compared using chi2 analyses. Although food marketing was not pervasive on the majority of the sites, seven of the 10 Web sites contained food marketing. The products marketed were primarily candy, cereal, quick serve restaurants, and snacks. Candystand.com, a food product site, contained a significantly greater amount of food marketing than the other popular children's Web sites. Because the foods marketed to children are not consistent with a healthful diet, nutrition professionals should consider joining advocacy groups to pressure industry to reduce online food marketing directed at youth.

  8. Amphipod-supported food web: Themisto gaudichaudii, a key food resource for fishes in the southern Patagonian Shelf

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Padovani, Luciano N.; Viñas, María Delia; Sánchez, Felisa; Mianzan, Hermes

    2012-01-01

    The trophic role of the hyperiid amphipod Themisto gaudichaudii in the southern Patagonian shelf food web was assessed from the analysis of stomach contents of the local fish assemblage. A total of 461 trawl samples were collected during seven seasonal cruises. A total of 17 out of 38 fish species were found to ingest T. gaudichaudii. This amphipod was a main prey item in five of these species, showing high values of alimentary index: Seriolella porosa (99.9%), Macruronus magellanicus (68.8%), Micromesistius australis (59.1%), Patagonotothen ramsayi (48.6%), and Merluccius hubbsi (10.9%). The contribution of T. gaudichaudii, in weight, to their summer diet was 60%, on average. This contribution was minimal in winter and maximal in summer. Fisheries studies have indicated that these five species, mainly M. magellanicus, account for almost 85% of the fish biomass in the area. Although the remaining 15% did not feed heavily on T. gaudichaudii, they are known to prey on the main hyperiid predators. Our study shows that T. gaudichaudii contributes greatly, both directly and indirectly, to supporting the fish community. We thus proposed that T. gaudichaudii plays a key role as a "wasp-waist" species in the sub-Antarctic region, similar to that of krill in Antarctic waters, channeling the energy flow and enabling a short and efficient food chain.

  9. Adaptations in a hierarchical food web of southeastern Lake Michigan

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Krause, Ann E.; Frank, Ken A.; Jones, Michael L.; Nalepa, Thomas F.; Barbiero, Richard P.; Madenjian, Charles P.; Agy, Megan; Evans, Marlene S.; Taylor, William W.; Mason, Doran M.; Leonard, Nancy J.

    2009-01-01

    Two issues in ecological network theory are: (1) how to construct an ecological network model and (2) how do entire networks (as opposed to individual species) adapt to changing conditions? We present a novel method for constructing an ecological network model for the food web of southeastern Lake Michigan (USA) and we identify changes in key system properties that are large relative to their uncertainty as this ecological network adapts from one time point to a second time point in response to multiple perturbations. To construct our food web for southeastern Lake Michigan, we followed the list of seven recommendations outlined in Cohen et al. [Cohen, J.E., et al., 1993. Improving food webs. Ecology 74, 252–258] for improving food webs. We explored two inter-related extensions of hierarchical system theory with our food web; the first one was that subsystems react to perturbations independently in the short-term and the second one was that a system's properties change at a slower rate than its subsystems’ properties. We used Shannon's equations to provide quantitative versions of the basic food web properties: number of prey, number of predators, number of feeding links, and connectance (or density). We then compared these properties between the two time-periods by developing distributions of each property for each time period that took uncertainty about the property into account. We compared these distributions, and concluded that non-overlapping distributions indicated changes in these properties that were large relative to their uncertainty. Two subsystems were identified within our food web system structure (p < 0.001). One subsystem had more non-overlapping distributions in food web properties between Time 1 and Time 2 than the other subsystem. The overall system had all overlapping distributions in food web properties between Time 1 and Time 2. These results supported both extensions of hierarchical systems theory. Interestingly, the subsystem with more

  10. Exposing the structure of an Arctic food web.

    PubMed

    Wirta, Helena K; Vesterinen, Eero J; Hambäck, Peter A; Weingartner, Elisabeth; Rasmussen, Claus; Reneerkens, Jeroen; Schmidt, Niels M; Gilg, Olivier; Roslin, Tomas

    2015-09-01

    How food webs are structured has major implications for their stability and dynamics. While poorly studied to date, arctic food webs are commonly assumed to be simple in structure, with few links per species. If this is the case, then different parts of the web may be weakly connected to each other, with populations and species united by only a low number of links. We provide the first highly resolved description of trophic link structure for a large part of a high-arctic food web. For this purpose, we apply a combination of recent techniques to describing the links between three predator guilds (insectivorous birds, spiders, and lepidopteran parasitoids) and their two dominant prey orders (Diptera and Lepidoptera). The resultant web shows a dense link structure and no compartmentalization or modularity across the three predator guilds. Thus, both individual predators and predator guilds tap heavily into the prey community of each other, offering versatile scope for indirect interactions across different parts of the web. The current description of a first but single arctic web may serve as a benchmark toward which to gauge future webs resolved by similar techniques. Targeting an unusual breadth of predator guilds, and relying on techniques with a high resolution, it suggests that species in this web are closely connected. Thus, our findings call for similar explorations of link structure across multiple guilds in both arctic and other webs. From an applied perspective, our description of an arctic web suggests new avenues for understanding how arctic food webs are built and function and of how they respond to current climate change. It suggests that to comprehend the community-level consequences of rapid arctic warming, we should turn from analyses of populations, population pairs, and isolated predator-prey interactions to considering the full set of interacting species. PMID:26380710

  11. Exposing the structure of an Arctic food web

    PubMed Central

    Wirta, Helena K; Vesterinen, Eero J; Hambäck, Peter A; Weingartner, Elisabeth; Rasmussen, Claus; Reneerkens, Jeroen; Schmidt, Niels M; Gilg, Olivier; Roslin, Tomas

    2015-01-01

    How food webs are structured has major implications for their stability and dynamics. While poorly studied to date, arctic food webs are commonly assumed to be simple in structure, with few links per species. If this is the case, then different parts of the web may be weakly connected to each other, with populations and species united by only a low number of links. We provide the first highly resolved description of trophic link structure for a large part of a high-arctic food web. For this purpose, we apply a combination of recent techniques to describing the links between three predator guilds (insectivorous birds, spiders, and lepidopteran parasitoids) and their two dominant prey orders (Diptera and Lepidoptera). The resultant web shows a dense link structure and no compartmentalization or modularity across the three predator guilds. Thus, both individual predators and predator guilds tap heavily into the prey community of each other, offering versatile scope for indirect interactions across different parts of the web. The current description of a first but single arctic web may serve as a benchmark toward which to gauge future webs resolved by similar techniques. Targeting an unusual breadth of predator guilds, and relying on techniques with a high resolution, it suggests that species in this web are closely connected. Thus, our findings call for similar explorations of link structure across multiple guilds in both arctic and other webs. From an applied perspective, our description of an arctic web suggests new avenues for understanding how arctic food webs are built and function and of how they respond to current climate change. It suggests that to comprehend the community-level consequences of rapid arctic warming, we should turn from analyses of populations, population pairs, and isolated predator–prey interactions to considering the full set of interacting species. PMID:26380710

  12. Using food-web theory to conserve ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    McDonald-Madden, E.; Sabbadin, R.; Game, E. T.; Baxter, P. W. J.; Chadès, I.; Possingham, H. P.

    2016-01-01

    Food-web theory can be a powerful guide to the management of complex ecosystems. However, we show that indices of species importance common in food-web and network theory can be a poor guide to ecosystem management, resulting in significantly more extinctions than necessary. We use Bayesian Networks and Constrained Combinatorial Optimization to find optimal management strategies for a wide range of real and hypothetical food webs. This Artificial Intelligence approach provides the ability to test the performance of any index for prioritizing species management in a network. While no single network theory index provides an appropriate guide to management for all food webs, a modified version of the Google PageRank algorithm reliably minimizes the chance and severity of negative outcomes. Our analysis shows that by prioritizing ecosystem management based on the network-wide impact of species protection rather than species loss, we can substantially improve conservation outcomes. PMID:26776253

  13. Tracking contaminant flux from aquatic to terrestrial food webs

    EPA Science Inventory

    Aquatic insects provide a critical energy subsidy to riparian food webs, yet their role as vectors of contaminants to terrestrial ecosystems is poorly understood. We investigated aquatic resource utilization and contaminant exposure among riparian invertivores (spiders and herpt...

  14. Barcoding a quantified food web: crypsis, concepts, ecology and hypotheses.

    PubMed

    Smith, M Alex; Eveleigh, Eldon S; McCann, Kevin S; Merilo, Mark T; McCarthy, Peter C; Van Rooyen, Kathleen I

    2011-01-01

    The efficient and effective monitoring of individuals and populations is critically dependent on correct species identification. While this point may seem obvious, identifying the majority of the more than 100 natural enemies involved in the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana--SBW) food web remains a non-trivial endeavor. Insect parasitoids play a major role in the processes governing the population dynamics of SBW throughout eastern North America. However, these species are at the leading edge of the taxonomic impediment and integrating standardized identification capacity into existing field programs would provide clear benefits. We asked to what extent DNA barcoding the SBW food web would alter our understanding of the diversity and connectence of the food web and the frequency of generalists vs. specialists in different forest habitats. We DNA barcoded over 10% of the insects collected from the SBW food web in three New Brunswick forest plots from 1983 to 1993. For 30% of these specimens, we amplified at least one additional nuclear region. When the nodes of the food web were estimated based on barcode divergences (using molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTU) or phylogenetic diversity (PD)--the food web became much more diverse and connectence was reduced. We tested one measure of food web structure (the "bird feeder effect") and found no difference compared to the morphologically based predictions. Many, but not all, of the presumably polyphagous parasitoids now appear to be morphologically-cryptic host-specialists. To our knowledge, this project is the first to barcode a food web in which interactions have already been well-documented and described in space, time and abundance. It is poised to be a system in which field-based methods permit the identification capacity required by forestry scientists. Food web barcoding provided an effective tool for the accurate identification of all species involved in the cascading effects of future budworm

  15. The inverse niche model for food webs with parasites

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Warren, Christopher P.; Pascual, Mercedes; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Kuris, Armand M.

    2010-01-01

    Although parasites represent an important component of ecosystems, few field and theoretical studies have addressed the structure of parasites in food webs. We evaluate the structure of parasitic links in an extensive salt marsh food web, with a new model distinguishing parasitic links from non-parasitic links among free-living species. The proposed model is an extension of the niche model for food web structure, motivated by the potential role of size (and related metabolic rates) in structuring food webs. The proposed extension captures several properties observed in the data, including patterns of clustering and nestedness, better than does a random model. By relaxing specific assumptions, we demonstrate that two essential elements of the proposed model are the similarity of a parasite's hosts and the increasing degree of parasite specialization, along a one-dimensional niche axis. Thus, inverting one of the basic rules of the original model, the one determining consumers' generality appears critical. Our results support the role of size as one of the organizing principles underlying niche space and food web topology. They also strengthen the evidence for the non-random structure of parasitic links in food webs and open the door to addressing questions concerning the consequences and origins of this structure.

  16. Food Web Assembly Rules for Generalized Lotka-Volterra Equations.

    PubMed

    Haerter, Jan O; Mitarai, Namiko; Sneppen, Kim

    2016-02-01

    In food webs, many interacting species coexist despite the restrictions imposed by the competitive exclusion principle and apparent competition. For the generalized Lotka-Volterra equations, sustainable coexistence necessitates nonzero determinant of the interaction matrix. Here we show that this requirement is equivalent to demanding that each species be part of a non-overlapping pairing, which substantially constrains the food web structure. We demonstrate that a stable food web can always be obtained if a non-overlapping pairing exists. If it does not, the matrix rank can be used to quantify the lack of niches, corresponding to unpaired species. For the species richness at each trophic level, we derive the food web assembly rules, which specify sustainable combinations. In neighboring levels, these rules allow the higher level to avert competitive exclusion at the lower, thereby incorporating apparent competition. In agreement with data, the assembly rules predict high species numbers at intermediate levels and thinning at the top and bottom. Using comprehensive food web data, we demonstrate how omnivores or parasites with hosts at multiple trophic levels can loosen the constraints and help obtain coexistence in food webs. Hence, omnivory may be the glue that keeps communities intact even under extinction or ecological release of species.

  17. Inducible defenses in food webs: Chapter 3.4

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Vos, Matthijs; Kooi, Bob W.; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Mooij, Wolf M.; de Ruiter, Peter; Wolters, Volkmar; Moore, John C.; Melville-Smith, Kimberly

    2005-01-01

    This chapter reviews the predicted effects of induced defenses on trophic structure and two aspects of stability, “local” stability and persistence, as well as presenting novel results on a third, resilience. Food webs are structures of populations in a given location organized according to their predator–prey interactions. Interaction strengths and, therefore, prey defenses are generally recognized as important ecological factors affecting food webs. Despite this, surprisingly, little light has been shed on the food web-level consequences of inducible defenses. Inducible defenses occur in many taxa in both terrestrial and aquatic food webs. They include refuge use, reduced activity, adaptive life history changes, the production of toxins, synomones and extrafloral nectar, and the formation of colonies, helmets, thorns, or spines. In the chapter, theoretical results for the effects of inducible defenses on trophic structure and the three aspects of stability are reviewed. This is done, in part, using bifurcation analysis—a type of analysis that is applied to nonlinear dynamic systems described by a set of ordinary differential or difference equations. The work presented in the chapter suggests that heterogeneity, as caused by induced defenses in prey species, has major effects on the functioning of food webs. Inducible defenses occur in many species in both aquatic and terrestrial systems, and theoretical work indicates they have major effects on important food web properties such as trophic structure, local stability, persistence, and resilience.

  18. Phylogeny versus body size as determinants of food web structure

    PubMed Central

    Naisbit, Russell E.; Rohr, Rudolf P.; Rossberg, Axel G.; Kehrli, Patrik; Bersier, Louis-Félix

    2012-01-01

    Food webs are the complex networks of trophic interactions that stoke the metabolic fires of life. To understand what structures these interactions in natural communities, ecologists have developed simple models to capture their main architectural features. However, apparently realistic food webs can be generated by models invoking either predator–prey body-size hierarchies or evolutionary constraints as structuring mechanisms. As a result, this approach has not conclusively revealed which factors are the most important. Here we cut to the heart of this debate by directly comparing the influence of phylogeny and body size on food web architecture. Using data from 13 food webs compiled by direct observation, we confirm the importance of both factors. Nevertheless, phylogeny dominates in most networks. Moreover, path analysis reveals that the size-independent direct effect of phylogeny on trophic structure typically outweighs the indirect effect that could be captured by considering body size alone. Furthermore, the phylogenetic signal is asymmetric: closely related species overlap in their set of consumers far more than in their set of resources. This is at odds with several food web models, which take only the view-point of consumers when assigning interactions. The echo of evolutionary history clearly resonates through current food webs, with implications for our theoretical models and conservation priorities. PMID:22628467

  19. Phylogeny versus body size as determinants of food web structure.

    PubMed

    Naisbit, Russell E; Rohr, Rudolf P; Rossberg, Axel G; Kehrli, Patrik; Bersier, Louis-Félix

    2012-08-22

    Food webs are the complex networks of trophic interactions that stoke the metabolic fires of life. To understand what structures these interactions in natural communities, ecologists have developed simple models to capture their main architectural features. However, apparently realistic food webs can be generated by models invoking either predator-prey body-size hierarchies or evolutionary constraints as structuring mechanisms. As a result, this approach has not conclusively revealed which factors are the most important. Here we cut to the heart of this debate by directly comparing the influence of phylogeny and body size on food web architecture. Using data from 13 food webs compiled by direct observation, we confirm the importance of both factors. Nevertheless, phylogeny dominates in most networks. Moreover, path analysis reveals that the size-independent direct effect of phylogeny on trophic structure typically outweighs the indirect effect that could be captured by considering body size alone. Furthermore, the phylogenetic signal is asymmetric: closely related species overlap in their set of consumers far more than in their set of resources. This is at odds with several food web models, which take only the view-point of consumers when assigning interactions. The echo of evolutionary history clearly resonates through current food webs, with implications for our theoretical models and conservation priorities.

  20. Food Web Assembly Rules for Generalized Lotka-Volterra Equations.

    PubMed

    Haerter, Jan O; Mitarai, Namiko; Sneppen, Kim

    2016-02-01

    In food webs, many interacting species coexist despite the restrictions imposed by the competitive exclusion principle and apparent competition. For the generalized Lotka-Volterra equations, sustainable coexistence necessitates nonzero determinant of the interaction matrix. Here we show that this requirement is equivalent to demanding that each species be part of a non-overlapping pairing, which substantially constrains the food web structure. We demonstrate that a stable food web can always be obtained if a non-overlapping pairing exists. If it does not, the matrix rank can be used to quantify the lack of niches, corresponding to unpaired species. For the species richness at each trophic level, we derive the food web assembly rules, which specify sustainable combinations. In neighboring levels, these rules allow the higher level to avert competitive exclusion at the lower, thereby incorporating apparent competition. In agreement with data, the assembly rules predict high species numbers at intermediate levels and thinning at the top and bottom. Using comprehensive food web data, we demonstrate how omnivores or parasites with hosts at multiple trophic levels can loosen the constraints and help obtain coexistence in food webs. Hence, omnivory may be the glue that keeps communities intact even under extinction or ecological release of species. PMID:26828363

  1. Food Web Assembly Rules for Generalized Lotka-Volterra Equations

    PubMed Central

    Haerter, Jan O.; Mitarai, Namiko; Sneppen, Kim

    2016-01-01

    In food webs, many interacting species coexist despite the restrictions imposed by the competitive exclusion principle and apparent competition. For the generalized Lotka-Volterra equations, sustainable coexistence necessitates nonzero determinant of the interaction matrix. Here we show that this requirement is equivalent to demanding that each species be part of a non-overlapping pairing, which substantially constrains the food web structure. We demonstrate that a stable food web can always be obtained if a non-overlapping pairing exists. If it does not, the matrix rank can be used to quantify the lack of niches, corresponding to unpaired species. For the species richness at each trophic level, we derive the food web assembly rules, which specify sustainable combinations. In neighboring levels, these rules allow the higher level to avert competitive exclusion at the lower, thereby incorporating apparent competition. In agreement with data, the assembly rules predict high species numbers at intermediate levels and thinning at the top and bottom. Using comprehensive food web data, we demonstrate how omnivores or parasites with hosts at multiple trophic levels can loosen the constraints and help obtain coexistence in food webs. Hence, omnivory may be the glue that keeps communities intact even under extinction or ecological release of species. PMID:26828363

  2. Soil food web changes during spontaneous succession at post mining sites: a possible ecosystem engineering effect on food web organization?

    PubMed

    Frouz, Jan; Thébault, Elisa; Pižl, Václav; Adl, Sina; Cajthaml, Tomáš; Baldrián, Petr; Háněl, Ladislav; Starý, Josef; Tajovský, Karel; Materna, Jan; Nováková, Alena; de Ruiter, Peter C

    2013-01-01

    Parameters characterizing the structure of the decomposer food web, biomass of the soil microflora (bacteria and fungi) and soil micro-, meso- and macrofauna were studied at 14 non-reclaimed 1- 41-year-old post-mining sites near the town of Sokolov (Czech Republic). These observations on the decomposer food webs were compared with knowledge of vegetation and soil microstructure development from previous studies. The amount of carbon entering the food web increased with succession age in a similar way as the total amount of C in food web biomass and the number of functional groups in the food web. Connectance did not show any significant changes with succession age, however. In early stages of the succession, the bacterial channel dominated the food web. Later on, in shrub-dominated stands, the fungal channel took over. Even later, in the forest stage, the bacterial channel prevailed again. The best predictor of fungal bacterial ratio is thickness of fermentation layer. We argue that these changes correspond with changes in topsoil microstructure driven by a combination of plant organic matter input and engineering effects of earthworms. In early stages, soil is alkaline, and a discontinuous litter layer on the soil surface promotes bacterial biomass growth, so the bacterial food web channel can dominate. Litter accumulation on the soil surface supports the development of the fungal channel. In older stages, earthworms arrive, mix litter into the mineral soil and form an organo-mineral topsoil, which is beneficial for bacteria and enhances the bacterial food web channel. PMID:24260281

  3. Soil Food Web Changes during Spontaneous Succession at Post Mining Sites: A Possible Ecosystem Engineering Effect on Food Web Organization?

    PubMed Central

    Frouz, Jan; Thébault, Elisa; Pižl, Václav; Adl, Sina; Cajthaml, Tomáš; Baldrián, Petr; Háněl, Ladislav; Starý, Josef; Tajovský, Karel; Materna, Jan; Nováková, Alena; de Ruiter, Peter C.

    2013-01-01

    Parameters characterizing the structure of the decomposer food web, biomass of the soil microflora (bacteria and fungi) and soil micro-, meso- and macrofauna were studied at 14 non-reclaimed 1– 41-year-old post-mining sites near the town of Sokolov (Czech Republic). These observations on the decomposer food webs were compared with knowledge of vegetation and soil microstructure development from previous studies. The amount of carbon entering the food web increased with succession age in a similar way as the total amount of C in food web biomass and the number of functional groups in the food web. Connectance did not show any significant changes with succession age, however. In early stages of the succession, the bacterial channel dominated the food web. Later on, in shrub-dominated stands, the fungal channel took over. Even later, in the forest stage, the bacterial channel prevailed again. The best predictor of fungal bacterial ratio is thickness of fermentation layer. We argue that these changes correspond with changes in topsoil microstructure driven by a combination of plant organic matter input and engineering effects of earthworms. In early stages, soil is alkaline, and a discontinuous litter layer on the soil surface promotes bacterial biomass growth, so the bacterial food web channel can dominate. Litter accumulation on the soil surface supports the development of the fungal channel. In older stages, earthworms arrive, mix litter into the mineral soil and form an organo-mineral topsoil, which is beneficial for bacteria and enhances the bacterial food web channel. PMID:24260281

  4. An experimental test of a fundamental food web motif.

    PubMed

    Rip, Jason M K; McCann, Kevin S; Lynn, Denis H; Fawcett, Sonia

    2010-06-01

    Large-scale changes to the world's ecosystem are resulting in the deterioration of biostructure-the complex web of species interactions that make up ecological communities. A difficult, yet crucial task is to identify food web structures, or food web motifs, that are the building blocks of this baroque network of interactions. Once identified, these food web motifs can then be examined through experiments and theory to provide mechanistic explanations for how structure governs ecosystem stability. Here, we synthesize recent ecological research to show that generalist consumers coupling resources with different interaction strengths, is one such motif. This motif amazingly occurs across an enormous range of spatial scales, and so acts to distribute coupled weak and strong interactions throughout food webs. We then perform an experiment that illustrates the importance of this motif to ecological stability. We find that weak interactions coupled to strong interactions by generalist consumers dampen strong interaction strengths and increase community stability. This study takes a critical step by isolating a common food web motif and through clear, experimental manipulation, identifies the fundamental stabilizing consequences of this structure for ecological communities. PMID:20129988

  5. Cascading extinctions and community collapse in model food webs.

    PubMed

    Dunne, Jennifer A; Williams, Richard J

    2009-06-27

    Species loss in ecosystems can lead to secondary extinctions as a result of consumer-resource relationships and other species interactions. We compare levels of secondary extinctions in communities generated by four structural food-web models and a fifth null model in response to sequential primary species removals. We focus on various aspects of food-web structural integrity including robustness, community collapse and threshold periods, and how these features relate to assumptions underlying different models, different species loss sequences and simple measures of diversity and complexity. Hierarchical feeding, a fundamental characteristic of food-web structure, appears to impose a cost in terms of robustness and other aspects of structural integrity. However, exponential-type link distributions, also characteristic of more realistic models, generally confer greater structural robustness than the less skewed link distributions of less realistic models. In most cases for the more realistic models, increased robustness and decreased levels of web collapse are associated with increased diversity, measured as species richness S, and increased complexity, measured as connectance C. These and other results, including a surprising sensitivity of more realistic model food webs to loss of species with few links to other species, are compared with prior work based on empirical food-web data.

  6. An experimental test of a fundamental food web motif

    PubMed Central

    Rip, Jason M. K.; McCann, Kevin S.; Lynn, Denis H.; Fawcett, Sonia

    2010-01-01

    Large-scale changes to the world's ecosystem are resulting in the deterioration of biostructure—the complex web of species interactions that make up ecological communities. A difficult, yet crucial task is to identify food web structures, or food web motifs, that are the building blocks of this baroque network of interactions. Once identified, these food web motifs can then be examined through experiments and theory to provide mechanistic explanations for how structure governs ecosystem stability. Here, we synthesize recent ecological research to show that generalist consumers coupling resources with different interaction strengths, is one such motif. This motif amazingly occurs across an enormous range of spatial scales, and so acts to distribute coupled weak and strong interactions throughout food webs. We then perform an experiment that illustrates the importance of this motif to ecological stability. We find that weak interactions coupled to strong interactions by generalist consumers dampen strong interaction strengths and increase community stability. This study takes a critical step by isolating a common food web motif and through clear, experimental manipulation, identifies the fundamental stabilizing consequences of this structure for ecological communities. PMID:20129988

  7. Stable Isotope Tracers of Process in Great Lakes Food Webs

    EPA Science Inventory

    Stable isotope analyses of biota are now commonly used to discern trophic pathways between consumers and their foods. However, those same isotope data also hold information about processes that influence the physicochemical setting of food webs as well as biological processes ope...

  8. Environmental controls on food web regimes: A fluvial perspective

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Power, Mary E.

    2006-02-01

    Because food web regimes control the biomass of primary producers (e.g., plants or algae), intermediate consumers (e.g., invertebrates), and large top predators (tuna, killer whales), they are of societal as well as academic interest. Some controls over food web regimes may be internal, but many are mediated by conditions or fluxes over large spatial scales. To understand locally observed changes in food webs, we must learn more about how environmental gradients and boundaries affect the fluxes of energy, materials, or organisms through landscapes or seascapes that influence local species interactions. Marine biologists and oceanographers have overcome formidable challenges of fieldwork on the high seas to make remarkable progress towards this goal. In river drainage networks, we have opportunities to address similar questions at smaller spatial scales, in ecosystems with clear physical structure and organization. Despite these advantages, we still have much to learn about linkages between fluxes from watershed landscapes and local food webs in river networks. Longitudinal (downstream) gradients in productivity, disturbance regimes, and habitat structure exert strong effects on the organisms and energy sources of river food webs, but their effects on species interactions are just beginning to be explored. In fluid ecosystems with less obvious physical structure, like the open ocean, discerning features that control the movement of organisms and affect food web dynamics is even more challenging. In both habitats, new sensing, tracing and mapping technologies have revealed how landscape or seascape features (e.g., watershed divides, ocean fronts or circulation cells) channel, contain or concentrate organisms, energy and materials. Field experiments and direct in situ observations of basic natural history, however, remain as vital as ever in interpreting the responses of biota to these features. We need field data that quantify the many spatial and temporal scales of

  9. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Food Web Structure in Different Environmental Settings.

    PubMed

    Thormar, Jonas; Hasler-Sheetal, Harald; Baden, Susanne; Boström, Christoffer; Clausen, Kevin Kuhlmann; Krause-Jensen, Dorte; Olesen, Birgit; Rasmussen, Jonas Ribergaard; Svensson, Carl Johan; Holmer, Marianne

    2016-01-01

    This study compares the structure of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) meadows and associated food webs in two eelgrass habitats in Denmark, differing in exposure, connection to the open sea, nutrient enrichment and water transparency. Meadow structure strongly reflected the environmental conditions in each habitat. The eutrophicated, protected site had higher biomass of filamentous algae, lower eelgrass biomass and shoot density, longer and narrower leaves, and higher above to below ground biomass ratio compared to the less nutrient-enriched and more exposed site. The faunal community composition and food web structure also differed markedly between sites with the eutrophicated, enclosed site having higher biomass of consumers and less complex food web. These relationships resulted in a column shaped biomass distribution of the consumers at the eutrophicated site whereas the less nutrient-rich site showed a pyramidal biomass distribution of consumers coupled with a more diverse consumer community. The differences in meadow and food web structure of the two seagrass habitats, suggest how physical setting may shape ecosystem response and resilience to anthropogenic pressure. We encourage larger, replicated studies to further disentangle the effects of different environmental variables on seagrass food web structure. PMID:26752412

  10. When do evolutionary food web models generate complex networks?

    PubMed

    Allhoff, Korinna T; Drossel, Barbara

    2013-10-01

    Evolutionary foodweb models are used to build food webs by the repeated addition of new species. Population dynamics leads to the extinction or establishment of a newly added species, and possibly to the extinction of other species. The food web structure that emerges after some time is a highly nontrivial result of the evolutionary and dynamical rules. We investigate the evolutionary food web model introduced by Loeuille and Loreau (2005), which characterizes species by their body mass as the only evolving trait. Our goal is to find the reasons behind the model's remarkable robustness and its capability to generate various and stable networks. In contrast to other evolutionary food web models, this model requires neither adaptive foraging nor allometric scaling of metabolic rates with body mass in order to produce complex networks that do not eventually collapse to trivial structures. Our study shows that this is essentially due to the fact that the difference in niche value between predator and prey as well as the feeding range are constrained so that they remain within narrow limits under evolution. Furthermore, competition between similar species is sufficiently strong, so that a trophic level can accommodate several species. We discuss the implications of these findings and argue that the conditions that stabilize other evolutionary food web models have similar effects because they also prevent the occurrence of extreme specialists or extreme generalists that have in general a higher fitness than species with a moderate niche width.

  11. Relevance of evolutionary history for food web structure.

    PubMed

    Eklöf, Anna; Helmus, Matthew R; Moore, M; Allesina, Stefano

    2012-04-22

    Explaining the structure of ecosystems is one of the great challenges of ecology. Simple models for food web structure aim at disentangling the complexity of ecological interaction networks and detect the main forces that are responsible for their shape. Trophic interactions are influenced by species traits, which in turn are largely determined by evolutionary history. Closely related species are more likely to share similar traits, such as body size, feeding mode and habitat preference than distant ones. Here, we present a theoretical framework for analysing whether evolutionary history--represented by taxonomic classification--provides valuable information on food web structure. In doing so, we measure which taxonomic ranks better explain species interactions. Our analysis is based on partitioning of the species into taxonomic units. For each partition, we compute the likelihood that a probabilistic model for food web structure reproduces the data using this information. We find that taxonomic partitions produce significantly higher likelihoods than expected at random. Marginal likelihoods (Bayes factors) are used to perform model selection among taxonomic ranks. We show that food webs are best explained by the coarser taxonomic ranks (kingdom to class). Our methods provide a way to explicitly include evolutionary history in models for food web structure.

  12. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Food Web Structure in Different Environmental Settings.

    PubMed

    Thormar, Jonas; Hasler-Sheetal, Harald; Baden, Susanne; Boström, Christoffer; Clausen, Kevin Kuhlmann; Krause-Jensen, Dorte; Olesen, Birgit; Rasmussen, Jonas Ribergaard; Svensson, Carl Johan; Holmer, Marianne

    2016-01-01

    This study compares the structure of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) meadows and associated food webs in two eelgrass habitats in Denmark, differing in exposure, connection to the open sea, nutrient enrichment and water transparency. Meadow structure strongly reflected the environmental conditions in each habitat. The eutrophicated, protected site had higher biomass of filamentous algae, lower eelgrass biomass and shoot density, longer and narrower leaves, and higher above to below ground biomass ratio compared to the less nutrient-enriched and more exposed site. The faunal community composition and food web structure also differed markedly between sites with the eutrophicated, enclosed site having higher biomass of consumers and less complex food web. These relationships resulted in a column shaped biomass distribution of the consumers at the eutrophicated site whereas the less nutrient-rich site showed a pyramidal biomass distribution of consumers coupled with a more diverse consumer community. The differences in meadow and food web structure of the two seagrass habitats, suggest how physical setting may shape ecosystem response and resilience to anthropogenic pressure. We encourage larger, replicated studies to further disentangle the effects of different environmental variables on seagrass food web structure.

  13. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Food Web Structure in Different Environmental Settings

    PubMed Central

    Thormar, Jonas; Hasler-Sheetal, Harald; Baden, Susanne; Boström, Christoffer; Clausen, Kevin Kuhlmann; Krause-Jensen, Dorte; Olesen, Birgit; Rasmussen, Jonas Ribergaard; Svensson, Carl Johan; Holmer, Marianne

    2016-01-01

    This study compares the structure of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) meadows and associated food webs in two eelgrass habitats in Denmark, differing in exposure, connection to the open sea, nutrient enrichment and water transparency. Meadow structure strongly reflected the environmental conditions in each habitat. The eutrophicated, protected site had higher biomass of filamentous algae, lower eelgrass biomass and shoot density, longer and narrower leaves, and higher above to below ground biomass ratio compared to the less nutrient-enriched and more exposed site. The faunal community composition and food web structure also differed markedly between sites with the eutrophicated, enclosed site having higher biomass of consumers and less complex food web. These relationships resulted in a column shaped biomass distribution of the consumers at the eutrophicated site whereas the less nutrient-rich site showed a pyramidal biomass distribution of consumers coupled with a more diverse consumer community. The differences in meadow and food web structure of the two seagrass habitats, suggest how physical setting may shape ecosystem response and resilience to anthropogenic pressure. We encourage larger, replicated studies to further disentangle the effects of different environmental variables on seagrass food web structure. PMID:26752412

  14. Effects of whaling on the structure of the Southern Ocean food web: insights on the "krill surplus" from ecosystem modelling.

    PubMed

    Surma, Szymon; Pakhomov, Evgeny A; Pitcher, Tony J

    2014-01-01

    The aim of this study was to examine the ecological plausibility of the "krill surplus" hypothesis and the effects of whaling on the Southern Ocean food web using mass-balance ecosystem modelling. The depletion trajectory and unexploited biomass of each rorqual population in the Antarctic was reconstructed using yearly catch records and a set of species-specific surplus production models. The resulting estimates of the unexploited biomass of Antarctic rorquals were used to construct an Ecopath model of the Southern Ocean food web existing in 1900. The rorqual depletion trajectory was then used in an Ecosim scenario to drive rorqual biomasses and examine the "krill surplus" phenomenon and whaling effects on the food web in the years 1900-2008. An additional suite of Ecosim scenarios reflecting several hypothetical trends in Southern Ocean primary productivity were employed to examine the effect of bottom-up forcing on the documented krill biomass trend. The output of the Ecosim scenarios indicated that while the "krill surplus" hypothesis is a plausible explanation of the biomass trends observed in some penguin and pinniped species in the mid-20th century, the excess krill biomass was most likely eliminated by a rapid decline in primary productivity in the years 1975-1995. Our findings suggest that changes in physical conditions in the Southern Ocean during this time period could have eliminated the ecological effects of rorqual depletion, although the mechanism responsible is currently unknown. Furthermore, a decline in iron bioavailability due to rorqual depletion may have contributed to the rapid decline in overall Southern Ocean productivity during the last quarter of the 20th century. The results of this study underscore the need for further research on historical changes in the roles of top-down and bottom-up forcing in structuring the Southern Ocean food web.

  15. Analytical solution of a model for complex food webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Camacho, Juan; Guimerà, Roger; Amaral, Luís A.

    2002-03-01

    We investigate numerically and analytically a recently proposed model for food webs [Nature 404, 180 (2000)] in the limit of large web sizes and sparse interaction matrices. We obtain analytical expressions for several quantities with ecological interest, in particular, the probability distributions for the number of prey and the number of predators. We find that these distributions have fast-decaying exponential and Gaussian tails, respectively. We also find that our analytical expressions are robust to changes in the details of the model.

  16. Food web dynamics in a seasonally varying wetland

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    DeAngelis, D.L.; Trexler, J.C.; Donalson, D.D.

    2008-01-01

    A spatially explicit model is developed to simulate the small fish community and its underlying food web, in the freshwater marshes of the Everglades. The community is simplified to a few small fish species feeding on periphyton and invertebrates. Other compartments are detritus, crayfish, and a piscivorous fish species. This unit food web model is applied to each of the 10,000 spatial cells on a 100 x 100 pixel landscape. Seasonal variation in water level is assumed and rules are assigned for fish movement in response to rising and falling water levels, which can cause many spatial cells to alternate between flooded and dry conditions. It is shown that temporal variations of water level on a spatially heterogeneous landscape can maintain at least three competing fish species. In addition, these environmental factors can strongly affect the temporal variation of the food web caused by top-down control from the piscivorous fish.

  17. Functional group diversity increases with modularity in complex food webs.

    PubMed

    Montoya, D; Yallop, M L; Memmott, J

    2015-01-01

    Biodiversity increases the ability of ecosystems to provide multiple functions. Most studies report a positive relationship between species richness and the number of ecosystem functions. However, it is not known whether the number of functional groups is related to the structure of the underlying species interaction network. Here we present food web data from 115 salt marsh islands and show that network structure is associated with the number of functional groups present. Functional group diversity is heterogeneously distributed across spatial scales, with some islands hosting more functional groups than others. Functional groups form modules within the community so that food webs with more modular architectures have more functional group diversity. Further, in communities with different interaction types, modularity can be seen as the multifunctional equivalent of trophic complementarity. Collectively, these findings reveal spatial heterogeneity in the number of functional groups that emerges from patterns in the structure of the food web.

  18. Food-web formation with recursive evolutionary branching.

    PubMed

    Ito, Hiroshi C; Ikegami, Takashi

    2006-01-01

    A reaction-diffusion model describing the evolutionary dynamics of a food-web was constructed. In this model, predator-prey relationships among organisms were determined by their position in a two-dimensional phenotype space defined by two traits: as prey and as predator. The mutation process is expressed with a diffusion process of biomass in the phenotype space. Numerical simulation of this model showed co-evolutionary dynamics of isolated phenotypic clusters, including various types of evolutionary branching, which were classified into branching as prey, branching as predators, and co-evolutionary branching of both prey and predators. A complex food-web develops with recursive evolutionary branching from a single phenotypic cluster. Biodiversity peaks at the medium strength of the predator-prey interaction, where the food-web is maintained at medium biomass by a balanced frequency between evolutionary branching and extinction.

  19. Functional group diversity increases with modularity in complex food webs

    PubMed Central

    Montoya, D.; Yallop, M.L.; Memmott, J.

    2015-01-01

    Biodiversity increases the ability of ecosystems to provide multiple functions. Most studies report a positive relationship between species richness and the number of ecosystem functions. However, it is not known whether the number of functional groups is related to the structure of the underlying species interaction network. Here we present food web data from 115 salt marsh islands and show that network structure is associated with the number of functional groups present. Functional group diversity is heterogeneously distributed across spatial scales, with some islands hosting more functional groups than others. Functional groups form modules within the community so that food webs with more modular architectures have more functional group diversity. Further, in communities with different interaction types, modularity can be seen as the multifunctional equivalent of trophic complementarity. Collectively, these findings reveal spatial heterogeneity in the number of functional groups that emerges from patterns in the structure of the food web. PMID:26059871

  20. Extinction risk and structure of a food web model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pękalski, Andrzej; Szwabiński, Janusz; Bena, Ioana; Droz, Michel

    2008-03-01

    We investigate in detail the model of a trophic web proposed by Amaral and Meyer [Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 652 (1999)]. We focus on small-size systems that are relevant for real biological food webs and for which the fluctuations play an important role. We show, using Monte Carlo simulations, that such webs can be nonviable, leading to extinction of all species in small and/or weakly coupled systems. Estimations of the extinction times and survival chances are also given. We show that before the extinction the fraction of highly connected species (“omnivores”) is increasing. Viable food webs exhibit a pyramidal structure, where the density of occupied niches is higher at lower trophic levels, and moreover the occupations of adjacent levels are closely correlated. We also demonstrate that the distribution of the lengths of food chains has an exponential character and changes weakly with the parameters of the model. On the contrary, the distribution of avalanche sizes of the extinct species depends strongly on the connectedness of the web. For rather loosely connected systems, we recover the power-law type of behavior with the same exponent as found in earlier studies, while for densely connected webs the distribution is not of a power-law type.

  1. Extinction risk and structure of a food web model.

    PubMed

    Pekalski, Andrzej; Szwabiński, Janusz; Bena, Ioana; Droz, Michel

    2008-03-01

    We investigate in detail the model of a trophic web proposed by Amaral and Meyer [Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 652 (1999)]. We focus on small-size systems that are relevant for real biological food webs and for which the fluctuations play an important role. We show, using Monte Carlo simulations, that such webs can be nonviable, leading to extinction of all species in small and/or weakly coupled systems. Estimations of the extinction times and survival chances are also given. We show that before the extinction the fraction of highly connected species ("omnivores") is increasing. Viable food webs exhibit a pyramidal structure, where the density of occupied niches is higher at lower trophic levels, and moreover the occupations of adjacent levels are closely correlated. We also demonstrate that the distribution of the lengths of food chains has an exponential character and changes weakly with the parameters of the model. On the contrary, the distribution of avalanche sizes of the extinct species depends strongly on the connectedness of the web. For rather loosely connected systems, we recover the power-law type of behavior with the same exponent as found in earlier studies, while for densely connected webs the distribution is not of a power-law type.

  2. Tracing food webs with stable hydrogen isotopes.

    PubMed

    Estep, M F; Dabrowski, H

    1980-09-26

    The hydrogen isotopic content of an animal's food, not water, determines that animal's hydrogen isotopic content. Liver and muscle tissue from mice reared on a diet such that the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen (DIH) of their food and water was kept constant, have the same average D/H ratio as the food source. In a simple, natural population of snails and their possible algal diets, Littorina obtusata (northern Atlantic intertidal snails that feed almost exclusively on the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus) has the same D/H ratio as Fucus vesiculosis and not that of the other algae available to the snails. PMID:17745967

  3. A Biomass Flow Approach to Population Models and Food Webs

    PubMed Central

    Getz, Wayne M.

    2011-01-01

    The dominant differential equation paradigm for modeling the population dynamics of species interacting in the framework of a food web retains at its core the basic prey-predator and competition models formulation by Alfred J. Lotka (1880–1945) and Vito Volterra (1860–1940) nearly nine decades ago. This paradigm lacks a trophic-level-independent formulation of population growth leading to ambiguities in how to treat populations that are simultaneously both prey and predator. Also, this paradigm does not fundamentally include inertial (i.e. change resisting) processes needed to account for the response of populations to fluctuating resource environments. Here I present an approach that corrects both these deficits and provides a unified framework for accounting for biomass transformation in food webs that include both live and dead components of all species in the system. This biomass transformation formulation (BTW) allows for a unified treatment of webs that include consumers of both live and dead material—both carnivores and carcasivores, herbivores and detritivores—and incorporates scavengers, parasites, and other neglected food web consumption categories in a coherent manner. I trace how BTW is an outgrowth of the metaphysiological growth modeling paradigm and I provide a general compact formulation of BTW in terms of a three-variable differential equation formulation for each species in the food web: viz. live biomass, dead biomass, and a food-intake-related measure called deficit-stress. I then illustrate the application of this new paradigm to provide insights into two-species competition in variable environments and discuss application of BTW to food webs that incorporate parasites and pathogens.

  4. Egg boons: central components of marine fatty acid food webs.

    PubMed

    Fuiman, Lee A; Connelly, Tara L; Lowerre-Barbieri, Susan K; McClelland, James W

    2015-02-01

    Food web relationships are traditionally defined in terms of the flow of key elements, such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, and their role in limiting production. There is growing recognition that availability of important biomolecules, such as fatty acids, may exert controls on secondary production that are not easily explained by traditional element-oriented models. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required by most organisms for proper physiological function but are manufactured almost entirely by primary producers. Therefore, the flow of EFAs, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and arachidonic acid (ARA), through aquatic food webs is critical for ecosystem functioning. A meta-analysis of data on the EFA content of marine organisms reveals that individual eggs of marine animals have exceptionally high concentrations of EFAs, and that superabundances of eggs released in temporally and spatially discrete patches create rich, but temporary, nutritional resources for egg predators, called "egg boons." Mortality rates of fish eggs are disproportionately higher than animals of similar size, and those eggs are consumed by predators, both larger and smaller than the adults that produce the eggs. Thus, egg boons are a major trophic pathway through which EFAs are repackaged and redistributed, and they are among the few pathways that run counter to the main direction of trophic flow. Egg boons can transport EFAs across ecosystems through advection of patches of eggs and spawning migrations of adults. Recognizing the significance of egg boons to aquatic food webs reveals linkages and feedbacks between organisms and environments that have important implications for understanding how food webs vary in time and space. Examples are given of top-down, bottom-up, and lateral control mechanisms that could significantly alter food webs through their effects on eggs. Our results suggest that trophodynamic food web models should include EFAs

  5. Infectious disease agents mediate interaction in food webs and ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Selakovic, Sanja; de Ruiter, Peter C; Heesterbeek, Hans

    2014-02-22

    Infectious agents are part of food webs and ecosystems via the relationship with their host species that, in turn, interact with both hosts and non-hosts. Through these interactions, infectious agents influence food webs in terms of structure, functioning and stability. The present literature shows a broad range of impacts of infectious agents on food webs, and by cataloguing that range, we worked towards defining the various mechanisms and their specific effects. To explore the impact, a direct approach is to study changes in food-web properties with infectious agents as separate species in the web, acting as additional nodes, with links to their host species. An indirect approach concentrates not on adding new nodes and links, but on the ways that infectious agents affect the existing links across host and non-host nodes, by influencing the 'quality' of consumer-resource interaction as it depends on the epidemiological state host involved. Both approaches are natural from an ecological point of view, but the indirect approach may connect more straightforwardly to commonly used tools in infectious disease dynamics.

  6. Infectious disease agents mediate interaction in food webs and ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Selakovic, Sanja; de Ruiter, Peter C.; Heesterbeek, Hans

    2014-01-01

    Infectious agents are part of food webs and ecosystems via the relationship with their host species that, in turn, interact with both hosts and non-hosts. Through these interactions, infectious agents influence food webs in terms of structure, functioning and stability. The present literature shows a broad range of impacts of infectious agents on food webs, and by cataloguing that range, we worked towards defining the various mechanisms and their specific effects. To explore the impact, a direct approach is to study changes in food-web properties with infectious agents as separate species in the web, acting as additional nodes, with links to their host species. An indirect approach concentrates not on adding new nodes and links, but on the ways that infectious agents affect the existing links across host and non-host nodes, by influencing the ‘quality’ of consumer–resource interaction as it depends on the epidemiological state host involved. Both approaches are natural from an ecological point of view, but the indirect approach may connect more straightforwardly to commonly used tools in infectious disease dynamics. PMID:24403336

  7. The characteristics of species in an evolutionary food web model.

    PubMed

    Lugo, Carlos A; McKane, Alan J

    2008-06-21

    We explore the consequences of modifying the way in which species are defined in an evolutionary food web model. In the original version of the model, the species were defined in terms of a fixed number of features, chosen from a large number of possibilities. These features represented phenotypic and behavioural characteristics of the species. Speciation consisted in occasionally replacing one of the features by another. Here we modify this scheme by firstly allowing for a richer structure and secondly by testing whether we are able to eliminate the need for an explicit choice of features altogether. In the first case we allow for changing the number of features which define a species, as well as their nature, and find that in the resulting webs the higher trophic levels typically contain species with the greatest number of features. In the second case, by a simplification of the mechanisms for inter and intra-species competition, we construct a model without any explicit features and find that we are still able to grow model food webs. We assess the quality of the food webs produced and discuss the consequences of our findings for the future modelling of food webs.

  8. Food caching in orb-web spiders (Araneae: Araneoidea).

    PubMed

    Champion de Crespigny, F E; Herberstein, M E; Elgar, M A

    2001-01-01

    Caching or storing surplus prey may reduce the risk of starvation during periods of food deprivation. While this behaviour occurs in a variety of birds and mammals, it is infrequent among invertebrates. However, golden orb-web spiders, Nephila edulis, incorporate a prey cache in their relatively permanent web, which they feed on during periods of food shortage. Heavier spiders significantly reduced weight loss if they were able to access a cache, but lost weight if the cache was removed. The presence or absence of stored prey had no effect on the weight loss of lighter spiders. Furthermore, N. edulis always attacked new prey, irrespective of the number of unprocessed prey in the web. In contrast, females of Argiope keyserlingi, who build a new web every day and do not cache prey, attacked fewer new prey items if some had already been caught. Thus, a necessary preadaptation to the evolution of prey caching in orb-web spiders may be a durable or permanent web, such as that constructed by Nephila.

  9. Unravelling the Food Web: Dietary Analysis in Modern Ecology.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Calver, M. C.; Porter, B. D.

    1986-01-01

    Presents information that gives a methodological background to the concept of food webs. Stresses the importance of calibrated techniques in ecological research and explains direct methods for studying animal diets. Exercises for gathering first-hand data on bird diets and analyzing secondary data on mammal diets are suggested. (ML)

  10. Ecohydrological Modeling of Food Webs in Stream Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Abdul-Aziz, O. I.; Wilson, B. N.; Gulliver, J. S.

    2007-12-01

    Dynamic biological processes in streams and rivers are essential aspects of ecohydrology. Numerical modeling of river food webs provides a useful vehicle for gaining insights into the scaling, self-organization and critical responses of these biological processes. Existing modeling literature is mostly limited to food webs with two or three trophic levels applied to marine or lake ecosystems. However, river ecosystems are distinctively different. They have a characteristic shorter residence time. Natural drivers (e.g., watershed and channel hydrology and geomorphology) as well as direct anthropogenic activities in rivers (e.g., building dams and reservoirs) play a vital role in shaping river food webs. Of particular interests are the benthic and non-benthic zones that have different physical, chemical and biological compositions. The authors developed food web models to capture the long- term dynamics of the total as well as that of the benthic and non-benthic zones in an interactive manner by emphasizing hydrologic drivers along with other environmental and geomorphologic constraints. These models are applied to several floodplain streams and rivers in Minnesota.

  11. Using a Simulation To Teach Food Web Dynamics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Rueter, John G.; Perrin, Nancy A.

    1999-01-01

    Reports on research that tested the effect of using a computer simulation to teach the concept of a food web to nonbiology majors in a large introductory course. Concludes that the use of the simulation resulted in significantly better performance on an open-ended essay question for those students who used the software, particularly for average…

  12. Food Webs and Environmental Disturbance: What's the Connection?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Ford, Bob; Smith, Bruce M.

    1994-01-01

    Two professors assert that it is not enough to simply tell students that all living organisms are mutually dependent. Describes an activity that allows students to become members of a food web and results in a greater understanding of and appreciation for the interdependencies of living things. Ideas for extension are provided. (ZWH)

  13. The trophodynamics of PCBs in the Lake Ontario food web

    SciTech Connect

    Metcalfe, T.L.; Metcalfe, C.D.

    1995-12-31

    Samples of water, sediment, invertebrates, fish, and herring gull eggs were collected in north-central Lake Ontario and were analyzed to determine the concentrations of PCBs, including non-ortho substituted PCB congeners, in the benthic and pelagic components of the Lake Ontario food web. There was biomagnification of PCBs in the food web from benthic and planktonic invertebrates through to lake trout and gulls. However, all of the fish species had about the same lipid-normalized concentrations of PCBs. The relative proportions of the PCB congeners changed as they passed through the food web. An index of metabolism for each PCB congener was calculated by comparing the concentrations of PCB congeners in various predator/prey groupings within the food web. These data indicate that invertebrates, fish and gulls have different capabilities in metabolizing and eliminating specific PCB congeners. While tri and tetrachlorinated congeners with no chlorine substitution at meta-para carbons on the biphenyl ring were readily metabolized by all taxa, only gulls appeared to be capable of metabolizing the PCBs with no chlorine substitution at ortho-meta positions. The trophodynamics of nonortho substituted (coplanar) PCBs did not differ from other PCB congeners of similar chlorine number, which indicates that non-ortho congeners are not any more persistent in biota than other PCBs.

  14. BENTHOS AS THE BASIS FOR ARCTIC FOOD WEBS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Plankton have traditionally been viewed as the basis for limnetic food webs, with zooplankton acting as a gateway for energy passing between phytoplanktonic primary producers and fish. Often, benthic production is considered to be important primarily in shallow systems or as a su...

  15. Critical patch sizes for food-web modules.

    PubMed

    Martinson, Holly M; Fagan, William F; Denno, Robert F

    2012-08-01

    Because patch size and connectivity may strongly impact the assemblage of species that occur on a patch, the types of food-web interactions that occur among those species may also depend on spatial structure. Here, we identify whether food-web interactions among salt-marsh-inhabiting arthropods vary with patch size and connectivity, and how such changes in trophic structure might feed back to influence the spatial distribution of prey. In a multiyear survey, patch-restricted predators exhibited steeper occupancy-patch-size relationships than herbivores, and species' critical patch sizes were correlated with overall rarity. As a result, the presence of food-web modules depended strongly on patch size: large and well-connected patches supported complex food-web modules, but only the simplest modules involving the most abundant species were found on small patches. Habitat-generalist spiders dominated on small patches, and predation pressure from such species may contribute to the observed lower densities of mesopredators on small patches. Overall, patch size and connectivity influenced the types of modules present on a patch through differential loss of rare, patch-restricted predators, but predation by generalist predators may be a key mechanism influencing the spatial structure of certain prey species.

  16. Stability and feedback levels in food web models.

    PubMed

    Smith, Matthew J; Sander, Elizabeth; Barabás, György; Allesina, Stefano

    2015-06-01

    Neutel & Thorne (Ecology Letters, 17:651-661, June 2014) provide an approximation for the leading eigenvalue of a food web community matrix involving coefficients of its characteristic polynomial. Though valuably incorporating three-way species interactions, two critical problems emerge when one considers the dimensions of the system, calling the approach's accuracy and precision into question.

  17. Methylmercury biomagnification in an Arctic pelagic food web.

    PubMed

    Ruus, Anders; Øverjordet, Ida B; Braaten, Hans Fredrik V; Evenset, Anita; Christensen, Guttorm; Heimstad, Eldbjørg S; Gabrielsen, Geir W; Borgå, Katrine

    2015-11-01

    Mercury (Hg) is a toxic element that enters the biosphere from natural and anthropogenic sources, and emitted gaseous Hg enters the Arctic from lower latitudes by long-range transport. In aquatic systems, anoxic conditions favor the bacterial transformation of inorganic Hg to methylmercury (MeHg), which has a greater potential for bioaccumulation than inorganic Hg and is the most toxic form of Hg. The main objective of the present study was to quantify the biomagnification of MeHg in a marine pelagic food web, comprising species of zooplankton, fish, and seabirds, from the Kongsfjorden system (Svalbard, Norway), by use of trophic magnification factors. As expected, tissue concentrations of MeHg increased with increasing trophic level in the food web, though at greater rates than observed in several earlier studies, especially at lower latitudes. There was strong correlation between MeHg and total Hg concentrations through the food web as a whole. The concentration of MeHg in kittiwake decreased from May to October, contributing to seasonal differences in trophic magnification factors. The ecology and physiology of the species comprising the food web in question may have a large influence on the magnitude of the biomagnification. A significant linear relationship was also observed between concentrations of selenium and total Hg in birds but not in zooplankton, suggesting the importance of selenium in Hg detoxification for individuals with high Hg concentrations. PMID:26274519

  18. Understanding food webs in the Chesapeake Bay

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Keough, J.R.; Haramis, G.M.; Perry, M.C.; Perry, M.C.

    2002-01-01

    Approaches to predictive modeling and to management of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem are 'bottom up' (i.e., approaches involve the control of nutrient inputs in attempts to manage plankton productivity) and 'top down' (i.e., approaches involve controls on harvest of fisheries and wildlife in attempts to manage vertebrate populations). Both approaches are limited by a lack of understanding of trophic connections between nutrient inputs, primary producers, and higher trophic level consumers. This project is aimed at identifying trophic structure for the submersed aquatic vegetation habitat of the Chesapeake Bay. We are employing analysis of stable isotope ratios of plant and animal tissues to identify trophic levels and traditional food habits analysis to identify the foods of a number of species of waterfowl.

  19. Dynamics in a three species food-web system

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gupta, K.; Gakkhar, S.

    2016-04-01

    In this paper, the dynamics of a three species food-web system is discussed. The food-web comprises of one predator and two logistically growing competing species. The predator species is taking food from one of the competitors with Holling type II functional response. Another competitor is the amensal species for the predator of first species. The system is shown to be positive and bounded. The stability of various axial points, boundary points and interior point has been investigated. The persistence of the system has been studied. Numerical simulation has been performed to show the occurrence of Hopf bifurcation and stable limit cycle about the interior point. The presence of second competitor and its interaction with predator gives more complex dynamics than the simple prey-predator system. The existence of transcritical bifurcation has been established about two axial points. The existence of periodic attractor having period-2 solution has been shown, when amensal coefficient is chosen as bifurcation parameter.

  20. Computer simulations of sympatric speciation in a simple food web.

    PubMed

    Luz-Burgoa, K; Dell, Tony; de Oliveira, S Moss

    2005-07-01

    Galapagos finches, have motivated much theoretical research aimed at understanding the processes associated with the formation of the species. Inspired by them, in this paper we investigate the process of sympatric speciation in a simple food web model. For that we modify the individual-based Penna model that has been widely used to study aging as well as other evolutionary processes. Initially, our web consists of a primary food source and a single herbivore species that feeds on this resource. Subsequently we introduce a predator that feeds on the herbivore. In both instances we manipulate directly a basal resource distribution and monitor the changes in the populations. Sympatric speciation is obtained for the top species in both cases, and our results suggest that the speciation velocity depends on how far up, in the food chain, the focus population is feeding. Simulations are done with three different sexual imprinting-like mechanisms, in order to discuss adaptation by natural selection.

  1. URBANIZATION ALTERS FATTY ACID CONCENTRATIONS OF STREAM FOOD WEBS IN THE NARRAGANSETT BAY WATERSHED

    EPA Science Inventory

    Urbanization and associated human activities negatively affect stream algal and invertebrate assemblages, likely altering food webs. Our goal was to determine if urbanization affects food web essential fatty acids (EFAs) and if EFAs could be useful ecological indicators in monito...

  2. Designing an Illustrated Food Web to Teach Ecological Concepts: Challenges and Solutions.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Godkin, Celia M.

    1999-01-01

    Argues that food webs are an efficient method through which to communicate the core idea of ecology--that all living things are interconnected. Assesses the challenges and solutions to using illustrated food webs. (Author/CCM)

  3. Food web heterogeneity and succession in created saltmarshes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nordstrom, M C; Demopoulos, Amanda; Whitcraft, CR; Rismondo, A.; McMillan, P.; Gonzales, J P; Levin, L A

    2015-01-01

    1. Ecological restoration must achieve functional as well as structural recovery. Functional metrics for reestablishment of trophic interactions can be used to complement traditional monitoring of structural attributes. In addition, topographic effects on food web structure provide added information within a restoration context; often, created sites may require spatial heterogeneity to effectively match structure and function of natural habitats. 2. We addressed both of these issues in our study of successional development of benthic food web structure, with focus on bottom–up driven changes in macroinvertebrate consumer assemblages in the salt marshes of the Venice Lagoon, Italy. We combined quantified estimates of the changing community composition with stable isotope data (13C:12C and 15N:14N) to compare the general trophic structure between created (2–14 years) marshes and reference sites and along topographic elevation gradients within salt marshes. 3. Macrofaunal invertebrate consumers exhibited local, habitat-specific trophic patterns. Stable isotope-based trophic structure changed with increasing marsh age, in particular with regards to mid-elevation (Salicornia) habitats. In young marshes, the mid-elevation consumer signatures resembled those of unvegetated ponds. The mid elevation of older and natural marshes had a more distinct Salicornia-zone food web, occasionally resembling that of the highest (Sarcocornia-dominated) elevation. In summary, this indicates that primary producers and availability of vascular plant detritus structure consumer trophic interactions and the flow of carbon. 4. Functionally different consumers, subsurface-feeding detritivores (Oligochaeta) and surface grazers (Hydrobia sp.), showed distinct but converging trajectories of isotopic change over time, indicating that successional development may be asymmetric between ‘brown’ (detrital) guilds and ‘green’ (grazing) guilds in the food web. 5. Synthesis and applications

  4. Benchmarking successional progress in a quantitative food web.

    PubMed

    Boit, Alice; Gaedke, Ursula

    2014-01-01

    Central to ecology and ecosystem management, succession theory aims to mechanistically explain and predict the assembly and development of ecological communities. Yet processes at lower hierarchical levels, e.g. at the species and functional group level, are rarely mechanistically linked to the under-investigated system-level processes which drive changes in ecosystem properties and functioning and are comparable across ecosystems. As a model system for secondary succession, seasonal plankton succession during the growing season is readily observable and largely driven autogenically. We used a long-term dataset from large, deep Lake Constance comprising biomasses, auto- and heterotrophic production, food quality, functional diversity, and mass-balanced food webs of the energy and nutrient flows between functional guilds of plankton and partly fish. Extracting population- and system-level indices from this dataset, we tested current hypotheses about the directionality of successional progress which are rooted in ecosystem theory, the metabolic theory of ecology, quantitative food web theory, thermodynamics, and information theory. Our results indicate that successional progress in Lake Constance is quantifiable, passing through predictable stages. Mean body mass, functional diversity, predator-prey weight ratios, trophic positions, system residence times of carbon and nutrients, and the complexity of the energy flow patterns increased during succession. In contrast, both the mass-specific metabolic activity and the system export decreased, while the succession rate exhibited a bimodal pattern. The weighted connectance introduced here represents a suitable index for assessing the evenness and interconnectedness of energy flows during succession. Diverging from earlier predictions, ascendency and eco-exergy did not increase during succession. Linking aspects of functional diversity to metabolic theory and food web complexity, we reconcile previously disjoint bodies of

  5. Benchmarking Successional Progress in a Quantitative Food Web

    PubMed Central

    Boit, Alice; Gaedke, Ursula

    2014-01-01

    Central to ecology and ecosystem management, succession theory aims to mechanistically explain and predict the assembly and development of ecological communities. Yet processes at lower hierarchical levels, e.g. at the species and functional group level, are rarely mechanistically linked to the under-investigated system-level processes which drive changes in ecosystem properties and functioning and are comparable across ecosystems. As a model system for secondary succession, seasonal plankton succession during the growing season is readily observable and largely driven autogenically. We used a long-term dataset from large, deep Lake Constance comprising biomasses, auto- and heterotrophic production, food quality, functional diversity, and mass-balanced food webs of the energy and nutrient flows between functional guilds of plankton and partly fish. Extracting population- and system-level indices from this dataset, we tested current hypotheses about the directionality of successional progress which are rooted in ecosystem theory, the metabolic theory of ecology, quantitative food web theory, thermodynamics, and information theory. Our results indicate that successional progress in Lake Constance is quantifiable, passing through predictable stages. Mean body mass, functional diversity, predator-prey weight ratios, trophic positions, system residence times of carbon and nutrients, and the complexity of the energy flow patterns increased during succession. In contrast, both the mass-specific metabolic activity and the system export decreased, while the succession rate exhibited a bimodal pattern. The weighted connectance introduced here represents a suitable index for assessing the evenness and interconnectedness of energy flows during succession. Diverging from earlier predictions, ascendency and eco-exergy did not increase during succession. Linking aspects of functional diversity to metabolic theory and food web complexity, we reconcile previously disjoint bodies of

  6. The assembly, collapse and restoration of food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dobson, Andy; Allesina, Stefano; Lafferty, Kevin; Pascual, Mercedes

    2009-01-01

    Darwin chose the metaphor of a 'tangled bank' to conclude the 'Origin of species'. Two centuries after Darwin's birth, we are still untangling the complex ecological networks he has pondered. In particular, studies of food webs provide important insights into how natural ecosystems function (Pascual & Dunne 2005). Although the nonlinear interactions between many species creates challenges of scale, resolution of data and significant computational constraints, the last 10 years have seen significant advances built on the earlier classic studies of Cohen, May, Pimm, Polis, Lawton and Yodzis (May 1974; Cohen 1978; Pimm 1982; Briand & Cohen 1984, 1987; Yodzis 1989; Cohen et al. 1990; Pimm et al. 1991; Yodzis & Innes 1992; Yodzis 1998). These gains stem from advances in computing power and the collation of more comprehensive data from a broader array of empirical food webs.

  7. Nitrogen fixation by cyanobacteria stimulates production in Baltic food webs.

    PubMed

    Karlson, Agnes M L; Duberg, Jon; Motwani, Nisha H; Hogfors, Hedvig; Klawonn, Isabell; Ploug, Helle; Barthel Svedén, Jennie; Garbaras, Andrius; Sundelin, Brita; Hajdu, Susanna; Larsson, Ulf; Elmgren, Ragnar; Gorokhova, Elena

    2015-06-01

    Filamentous, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria form extensive summer blooms in the Baltic Sea. Their ability to fix dissolved N2 allows cyanobacteria to circumvent the general summer nitrogen limitation, while also generating a supply of novel bioavailable nitrogen for the food web. However, the fate of the nitrogen fixed by cyanobacteria remains unresolved, as does its importance for secondary production in the Baltic Sea. Here, we synthesize recent experimental and field studies providing strong empirical evidence that cyanobacterial nitrogen is efficiently assimilated and transferred in Baltic food webs via two major pathways: directly by grazing on fresh or decaying cyanobacteria and indirectly through the uptake by other phytoplankton and microbes of bioavailable nitrogen exuded from cyanobacterial cells. This information is an essential step toward guiding nutrient management to minimize noxious blooms without overly reducing secondary production, and ultimately most probably fish production in the Baltic Sea.

  8. Phylogenetic constraints and adaptation explain food-web structure.

    PubMed

    Cattin, Marie-France; Bersier, Louis-Félix; Banasek-Richter, Carolin; Baltensperger, Richard; Gabriel, Jean-Pierre

    2004-02-26

    Food webs are descriptions of who eats whom in an ecosystem. Although extremely complex and variable, their structure possesses basic regularities. A fascinating question is to find a simple model capturing the underlying processes behind these repeatable patterns. Until now, two models have been devised for the description of trophic interactions within a natural community. Both are essentially based on the concept of ecological niche, with the consumers organized along a single niche dimension; for example, prey size. Unfortunately, they fail to describe adequately recent and high-quality data. Here, we propose a new model built on the hypothesis that any species' diet is the consequence of phylogenetic constraints and adaptation. Simple rules incorporating both concepts yield food webs whose structure is very close to real data. Consumers are organized in groups forming a nested hierarchy, which better reflects the complexity and multidimensionality of most natural systems.

  9. Molecular evidence for genetic subdivision of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana) populations.

    PubMed Central

    Zane, L; Ostellari, L; Maccatrozzo, L; Bargelloni, L; Battaglia, B; Patarnello, T

    1998-01-01

    Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana) is a key species in the Antarctic food web and occurs on a circumcontinental scale. Population genetic structure of this species was investigated by sequence analysis of the ND1 mitochondrial gene in four population samples collected at different geographical localities around the Antarctic continent. Results indicate the existence of significant genetic differences between samples, and we suggest that oceanographic barriers could be sufficiently strong and temporally stable to restrict gene flow between distinct areas. Moreover, our data indicate that Antarctic krill is not at mutation-drift equilibrium and that the species possibly has a low effective population size as compared to the census size. PMID:9921678

  10. Simulating food web dynamics along a gradient: quantifying human influence.

    PubMed

    Jordán, Ferenc; Gjata, Nerta; Mei, Shu; Yule, Catherine M

    2012-01-01

    Realistically parameterized and dynamically simulated food-webs are useful tool to explore the importance of the functional diversity of ecosystems, and in particular relations between the dynamics of species and the whole community. We present a stochastic dynamical food web simulation for the Kelian River (Borneo). The food web was constructed for six different locations, arrayed along a gradient of increasing human perturbation (mostly resulting from gold mining activities) along the river. Along the river, the relative importance of grazers, filterers and shredders decreases with increasing disturbance downstream, while predators become more dominant in governing eco-dynamics. Human activity led to increased turbidity and sedimentation which adversely impacts primary productivity. Since the main difference between the study sites was not the composition of the food webs (structure is quite similar) but the strengths of interactions and the abundance of the trophic groups, a dynamical simulation approach seemed to be useful to better explain human influence. In the pristine river (study site 1), when comparing a structural version of our model with the dynamical model we found that structurally central groups such as omnivores and carnivores were not the most important ones dynamically. Instead, primary consumers such as invertebrate grazers and shredders generated a greater dynamical response. Based on the dynamically most important groups, bottom-up control is replaced by the predominant top-down control regime as distance downstream and human disturbance increased. An important finding, potentially explaining the poor structure to dynamics relationship, is that indirect effects are at least as important as direct ones during the simulations. We suggest that our approach and this simulation framework could serve systems-based conservation efforts. Quantitative indicators on the relative importance of trophic groups and the mechanistic modeling of eco

  11. Simulating food web dynamics along a gradient: quantifying human influence.

    PubMed

    Jordán, Ferenc; Gjata, Nerta; Mei, Shu; Yule, Catherine M

    2012-01-01

    Realistically parameterized and dynamically simulated food-webs are useful tool to explore the importance of the functional diversity of ecosystems, and in particular relations between the dynamics of species and the whole community. We present a stochastic dynamical food web simulation for the Kelian River (Borneo). The food web was constructed for six different locations, arrayed along a gradient of increasing human perturbation (mostly resulting from gold mining activities) along the river. Along the river, the relative importance of grazers, filterers and shredders decreases with increasing disturbance downstream, while predators become more dominant in governing eco-dynamics. Human activity led to increased turbidity and sedimentation which adversely impacts primary productivity. Since the main difference between the study sites was not the composition of the food webs (structure is quite similar) but the strengths of interactions and the abundance of the trophic groups, a dynamical simulation approach seemed to be useful to better explain human influence. In the pristine river (study site 1), when comparing a structural version of our model with the dynamical model we found that structurally central groups such as omnivores and carnivores were not the most important ones dynamically. Instead, primary consumers such as invertebrate grazers and shredders generated a greater dynamical response. Based on the dynamically most important groups, bottom-up control is replaced by the predominant top-down control regime as distance downstream and human disturbance increased. An important finding, potentially explaining the poor structure to dynamics relationship, is that indirect effects are at least as important as direct ones during the simulations. We suggest that our approach and this simulation framework could serve systems-based conservation efforts. Quantitative indicators on the relative importance of trophic groups and the mechanistic modeling of eco

  12. Consumers indirectly increase infection risk in grassland food webs.

    PubMed

    Borer, Elizabeth T; Mitchell, Charles E; Power, Alison G; Seabloom, Eric W

    2009-01-13

    Most pathogens exist within complicated food webs of interacting hosts, vectors, competitors, and predators. Although theory has demonstrated a variety of mechanisms by which predation and competition in food webs can indirectly control infection risk in hosts, there have until now been no experimental tests of this theory. We sampled the effect of long-term exclusion of large vertebrate herbivores on the prevalence of infection by a group of aphid-vectored viruses that infect grasses (barley and cereal yellow dwarf viruses) in an oak savannah in central California. We found that pathogen prevalence was approximately 4-fold higher in the presence of consumers than in areas where they were excluded. Vertebrate consumers did not directly alter infection rates by this aphid-vectored pathogen group, but rather increased infection risk by increasing the relative abundance of highly-competent hosts in the grassland community. This large-scale experiment, measuring changes in host abundance and infection risk in response to altered consumption rates, confirms theoretical predictions that consumers can indirectly increase infection risk by altering the composition of whole communities. Most importantly, these results demonstrate that, even in complex natural communities, alterations to food web composition such as consumer invasion or extinction can lead to significant impacts that cascade throughout entire communities, including changes in infection risk.

  13. Scaling behaviors of weighted food webs as energy transportation networks.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Jiang; Guo, Liangpeng

    2010-06-01

    Food webs can be regarded as energy transporting networks in which the weight of each edge denotes the energy flux between two species. By investigating 21 empirical weighted food webs as energy flow networks, we found several ubiquitous scaling behaviors. Two random variables A(i) and C(i) defined for each vertex i, representing the total flux (also called vertex intensity) and total indirect effect or energy store of i, were found to follow power law distributions with the exponents alpha approximately 1.32 and beta approximately 1.33, respectively. Another scaling behavior is the power law relationship, C(i) approximately A(i)(eta), where eta approximately 1.02. This is known as the allometric scaling power law relationship because A(i) can be treated as metabolism and C(i) as the body mass of the sub-network rooted from the vertex i, according to the algorithm presented in this paper. Finally, a simple relationship among these power law exponents, eta=(alpha-1)/(beta-1), was mathematically derived and tested by the empirical food webs.

  14. Tracking the autochthonous carbon transfer in stream biofilm food webs.

    PubMed

    Risse-Buhl, Ute; Trefzger, Nicolai; Seifert, Anne-Gret; Schönborn, Wilfried; Gleixner, Gerd; Küsel, Kirsten

    2012-01-01

    Food webs in the rhithral zone rely mainly on allochthonous carbon from the riparian vegetation. However, autochthonous carbon might be more important in open canopy streams. In streams, most of the microbial activity occurs in biofilms, associated with the streambed. We followed the autochthonous carbon transfer toward bacteria and grazing protozoa within a stream biofilm food web. Biofilms that developed in a second-order stream (Thuringia, Germany) were incubated in flow channels under climate-controlled conditions. Six-week-old biofilms received either ¹³C- or ¹²C-labeled CO₂, and uptake into phospholipid fatty acids was followed. The dissolved inorganic carbon of the flow channel water became immediately labeled. In biofilms grown under 8-h light/16-h dark conditions, more than 50% of the labeled carbon was incorporated in biofilm algae, mainly filamentous cyanobacteria, pennate diatoms, and nonfilamentous green algae. A mean of 29% of the labeled carbon reached protozoan grazer. The testate amoeba Pseudodifflugia horrida was highly abundant in biofilms and seemed to be the most important grazer on biofilm bacteria and algae. Hence, stream biofilms dominated by cyanobacteria and algae seem to play an important role in the uptake of CO₂ and transfer of autochthonous carbon through the microbial food web. PMID:22067054

  15. Does cadmium pollution change trophic interactions in rockpool food webs?

    SciTech Connect

    Koivisto, S.; Arner, M.; Kautsky, N.

    1997-06-01

    The authors studied the regulation of phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass in rockpool food webs under chronic cadmium pollution. Experimental food webs with two and three trophic levels were composed of phytoplankton, small-bodied zooplankton (Chydorus sphaericus, Cyclops sp., and rotifers), Daphnia magna, and Notonecta sp., a zooplanktivorous predator. Every food web received a control and cadmium treatment allowing a separate study of cadmium and predation effects. After a 3-week stabilization period, cadmium and Notonecta were added and changes in primary productivity, chlorophyll, zooplankton species composition, and biomass were followed during 8 weeks. The results showed that phytoplankton and Daphnia were consumer regulated in both control and cadmium treatments, although resource availability ultimately determined the biomass at each trophic level. Daphnia was the only zooplankton species that reduced phytoplankton and also the only species that was eliminated by Notonecta predation. Notonecta had an indirect positive impact on phytoplankton biomass that increased after the extinction of Daphnia. Cadmium significantly reduced phytoplankton and Daphnia but did not change the trophic interactions between them, i.e., Daphnia and chlorophyll were significantly negatively correlated both in the control and cadmium treatments. Cadmium did not affect the relationship between Daphnia and Notonecta.

  16. Rescaling the trophic structure of marine food webs.

    PubMed

    Hussey, Nigel E; Macneil, M Aaron; McMeans, Bailey C; Olin, Jill A; Dudley, Sheldon F J; Cliff, Geremy; Wintner, Sabine P; Fennessy, Sean T; Fisk, Aaron T

    2014-02-01

    Measures of trophic position (TP) are critical for understanding food web interactions and human-mediated ecosystem disturbance. Nitrogen stable isotopes (δ(15) N) provide a powerful tool to estimate TP but are limited by a pragmatic assumption that isotope discrimination is constant (change in δ(15) N between predator and prey, Δ(15) N = 3.4‰), resulting in an additive framework that omits known Δ(15) N variation. Through meta-analysis, we determine narrowing discrimination from an empirical linear relationship between experimental Δ(15) N and δ(15) N values of prey consumed. The resulting scaled Δ(15) N framework estimated reliable TPs of zooplanktivores to tertiary piscivores congruent with known feeding relationships that radically alters the conventional structure of marine food webs. Apex predator TP estimates were markedly higher than currently assumed by whole-ecosystem models, indicating perceived food webs have been truncated and species-interactions over simplified. The scaled Δ(15) N framework will greatly improve the accuracy of trophic estimates widely used in ecosystem-based management.

  17. Food Web Structure Shapes the Morphology of Teleost Fish Brains.

    PubMed

    Edmunds, Nicholas B; McCann, Kevin S; Laberge, Frédéric

    2016-01-01

    Previous work showed that teleost fish brain size correlates with the flexible exploitation of habitats and predation abilities in an aquatic food web. Since it is unclear how regional brain changes contribute to these relationships, we quantitatively examined the effects of common food web attributes on the size of five brain regions in teleost fish at both within-species (plasticity or natural variation) and between-species (evolution) scales. Our results indicate that brain morphology is influenced by habitat use and trophic position, but not by the degree of littoral-pelagic habitat coupling, despite the fact that the total brain size was previously shown to increase with habitat coupling in Lake Huron. Intriguingly, the results revealed two potential evolutionary trade-offs: (i) relative olfactory bulb size increased, while relative optic tectum size decreased, across a trophic position gradient, and (ii) the telencephalon was relatively larger in fish using more littoral-based carbon, while the cerebellum was relatively larger in fish using more pelagic-based carbon. Additionally, evidence for a within-species effect on the telencephalon was found, where it increased in size with trophic position. Collectively, these results suggest that food web structure has fundamentally contributed to the shaping of teleost brain morphology.

  18. Emergence of evolutionary cycles in size-structured food webs.

    PubMed

    Ritterskamp, Daniel; Bearup, Daniel; Blasius, Bernd

    2016-11-01

    The interplay of population dynamics and evolution within ecological communities has been of long-standing interest for ecologists and can give rise to evolutionary cycles, e.g. taxon cycles. Evolutionary cycling was intensely studied in small communities with asymmetric competition; the latter drives the evolutionary processes. Here we demonstrate that evolutionary cycling arises naturally in larger communities if trophic interactions are present, since these are intrinsically asymmetric. To investigate the evolutionary dynamics of a trophic community, we use an allometric food web model. We find that evolutionary cycles emerge naturally for a large parameter ranges. The origin of the evolutionary dynamics is an intrinsic asymmetry in the feeding kernel which creates an evolutionary ratchet, driving species towards larger bodysize. We reveal different kinds of cycles: single morph cycles, and coevolutionary and mixed cycling of complete food webs. The latter refers to the case where each trophic level can have different evolutionary dynamics. We discuss the generality of our findings and conclude that ongoing evolution in food webs may be more frequent than commonly believed. PMID:27544419

  19. Tracking the autochthonous carbon transfer in stream biofilm food webs.

    PubMed

    Risse-Buhl, Ute; Trefzger, Nicolai; Seifert, Anne-Gret; Schönborn, Wilfried; Gleixner, Gerd; Küsel, Kirsten

    2012-01-01

    Food webs in the rhithral zone rely mainly on allochthonous carbon from the riparian vegetation. However, autochthonous carbon might be more important in open canopy streams. In streams, most of the microbial activity occurs in biofilms, associated with the streambed. We followed the autochthonous carbon transfer toward bacteria and grazing protozoa within a stream biofilm food web. Biofilms that developed in a second-order stream (Thuringia, Germany) were incubated in flow channels under climate-controlled conditions. Six-week-old biofilms received either ¹³C- or ¹²C-labeled CO₂, and uptake into phospholipid fatty acids was followed. The dissolved inorganic carbon of the flow channel water became immediately labeled. In biofilms grown under 8-h light/16-h dark conditions, more than 50% of the labeled carbon was incorporated in biofilm algae, mainly filamentous cyanobacteria, pennate diatoms, and nonfilamentous green algae. A mean of 29% of the labeled carbon reached protozoan grazer. The testate amoeba Pseudodifflugia horrida was highly abundant in biofilms and seemed to be the most important grazer on biofilm bacteria and algae. Hence, stream biofilms dominated by cyanobacteria and algae seem to play an important role in the uptake of CO₂ and transfer of autochthonous carbon through the microbial food web.

  20. Rescaling the trophic structure of marine food webs

    PubMed Central

    Hussey, Nigel E; MacNeil, M Aaron; McMeans, Bailey C; Olin, Jill A; Dudley, Sheldon FJ; Cliff, Geremy; Wintner, Sabine P; Fennessy, Sean T; Fisk, Aaron T

    2014-01-01

    Measures of trophic position (TP) are critical for understanding food web interactions and human-mediated ecosystem disturbance. Nitrogen stable isotopes (δ15N) provide a powerful tool to estimate TP but are limited by a pragmatic assumption that isotope discrimination is constant (change in δ15N between predator and prey, Δ15N = 3.4‰), resulting in an additive framework that omits known Δ15N variation. Through meta-analysis, we determine narrowing discrimination from an empirical linear relationship between experimental Δ15N and δ15N values of prey consumed. The resulting scaled Δ15N framework estimated reliable TPs of zooplanktivores to tertiary piscivores congruent with known feeding relationships that radically alters the conventional structure of marine food webs. Apex predator TP estimates were markedly higher than currently assumed by whole-ecosystem models, indicating perceived food webs have been truncated and species-interactions over simplified. The scaled Δ15N framework will greatly improve the accuracy of trophic estimates widely used in ecosystem-based management. PMID:24308860

  1. Emergence of evolutionary cycles in size-structured food webs.

    PubMed

    Ritterskamp, Daniel; Bearup, Daniel; Blasius, Bernd

    2016-11-01

    The interplay of population dynamics and evolution within ecological communities has been of long-standing interest for ecologists and can give rise to evolutionary cycles, e.g. taxon cycles. Evolutionary cycling was intensely studied in small communities with asymmetric competition; the latter drives the evolutionary processes. Here we demonstrate that evolutionary cycling arises naturally in larger communities if trophic interactions are present, since these are intrinsically asymmetric. To investigate the evolutionary dynamics of a trophic community, we use an allometric food web model. We find that evolutionary cycles emerge naturally for a large parameter ranges. The origin of the evolutionary dynamics is an intrinsic asymmetry in the feeding kernel which creates an evolutionary ratchet, driving species towards larger bodysize. We reveal different kinds of cycles: single morph cycles, and coevolutionary and mixed cycling of complete food webs. The latter refers to the case where each trophic level can have different evolutionary dynamics. We discuss the generality of our findings and conclude that ongoing evolution in food webs may be more frequent than commonly believed.

  2. Semantic annotation of Web data applied to risk in food.

    PubMed

    Hignette, Gaëlle; Buche, Patrice; Couvert, Olivier; Dibie-Barthélemy, Juliette; Doussot, David; Haemmerlé, Ollivier; Mettler, Eric; Soler, Lydie

    2008-11-30

    A preliminary step to risk in food assessment is the gathering of experimental data. In the framework of the Sym'Previus project (http://www.symprevius.org), a complete data integration system has been designed, grouping data provided by industrial partners and data extracted from papers published in the main scientific journals of the domain. Those data have been classified by means of a predefined vocabulary, called ontology. Our aim is to complement the database with data extracted from the Web. In the framework of the WebContent project (www.webcontent.fr), we have designed a semi-automatic acquisition tool, called @WEB, which retrieves scientific documents from the Web. During the @WEB process, data tables are extracted from the documents and then annotated with the ontology. We focus on the data tables as they contain, in general, a synthesis of data published in the documents. In this paper, we explain how the columns of the data tables are automatically annotated with data types of the ontology and how the relations represented by the table are recognised. We also give the results of our experimentation to assess the quality of such an annotation.

  3. Food web structure and bioregions in the Scotia Sea: A seasonal synthesis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ward, Peter; Atkinson, Angus; Venables, Hugh J.; Tarling, Geraint A.; Whitehouse, Mick J.; Fielding, Sophie; Collins, Martin A.; Korb, Rebecca; Black, Andrew; Stowasser, Gabriele; Schmidt, Katrin; Thorpe, Sally E.; Enderlein, Peter

    2012-01-01

    Bioregionalisation, the partitioning of large ecosystems into functionally distinct sub-units, facilitates ecosystem modelling, management and conservation. A variety of schemes have been used to partition the Southern Ocean, based variously on frontal positions, sea ice, productivity, water depth and nutrient concentrations. We have tested the utility and robustness of ecosystem bioregionalisation for the Scotia Sea, by classifying spring, summer and autumn stations on the basis of nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton taxa, meso- and macrozooplankton, fish catches and acoustic data. Despite sampling across different seasons and years, at different spatial scales and taxonomic resolutions, cluster analysis indicated basically consistent spatial divisions across this wide range of trophic levels. Stations could be classified into two main groups, lying broadly to the north and south of the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF). In some aspects the 2 station groups were similar, with both having variable but often high phytoplankton biomass as well as similar biomass of fish. However, the colder water southern group, most of which was covered by seasonal sea ice, had a fundamentally different food web structure to that in the northern Scotia Sea. The cold water community had a depleted, cold-adapted fauna characterised by low zooplankton biomass, Euphausia superba and the fish Electrona antarctica and Gymnoscopelus braueri. In contrast the northern group was richer with higher mesozooplankton biomass and a fauna of warmer or more cosmopolitan species such as Themisto gaudichaudii, Euphausia triacantha and the fish Protomyctophum bolini, Kreffticthys anderssoni and Gymnoscopelus fraseri. The position of the food web transition, broadly consistent with the position of the SACCF, supports a recent circumpolar-scale bioregionalisation. However, there is little evidence that this relatively weak frontal transition represents a significant barrier either

  4. Midwater food web in the vicinity of a marginal ice zone in the western Weddell Sea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hopkins, Thomas L.; Torres, Joseph J.

    1989-04-01

    The structure of the food web in the vicinity of a marginal ice zone was investigated in the western Weddell Sea during austral autumn 1986. The diets of 40 species of zooplankton and micronekton occurring in the epipelagic zone were examined and compared using non-hierarchical clustering procedures. Over half the species were in three clusters of predominantly small-particle (phytoplankton; protozoans) grazers. These included biomass dominants Calanoides acutus, Calanus propinquus, Metridia gerlachei and Salpa thompsoni. Six clusters contained omnivores that had diets consisting of small particles as well as a substantial fraction of metazoan food. Among these was Euphausia superba. Seven groups were carnivorous, including species of copepods (1), chaetognaths (3), and fishes (5). Copepods were the most frequent food of carnivores; however krill also were important in the diets of three fish species. Among small-particle grazers, phytoplankton occurred more frequently in guts of individuals from open water; carnivory was more in evidence in samples collected under the pack ice. Regional comparisons of material taken on this and several previous cruises indicate that, in most of the dominant species, diets remain relatively consistent with respect to major food categories. Seasonal impact on feeding dynamics appears to be great: the guts of grazing species were generally much more full (visual evidence) during summer bloom conditions than during the autumn. The following trophic sequence is suggested for grazing zooplankton species in ice-covered regions of the Antarctic: (1) Active small-particle grazing during the summer bloom period; (2) reduced ingestion rates in autumn as primary production declines and the system becomes more oligotrophic, with some species augmenting grazing with carnivory; (3) descent of zooplankton biomass species into the mesopelagic zone in late autumn-early winter with feeding largely terminated. The sequence applies to the dominant

  5. Effects of spatial scale of sampling on food web structure

    PubMed Central

    Wood, Spencer A; Russell, Roly; Hanson, Dieta; Williams, Richard J; Dunne, Jennifer A

    2015-01-01

    This study asks whether the spatial scale of sampling alters structural properties of food webs and whether any differences are attributable to changes in species richness and connectance with scale. Understanding how different aspects of sampling effort affect ecological network structure is important for both fundamental ecological knowledge and the application of network analysis in conservation and management. Using a highly resolved food web for the marine intertidal ecosystem of the Sanak Archipelago in the Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska, we assess how commonly studied properties of network structure differ for 281 versions of the food web sampled at five levels of spatial scale representing six orders of magnitude in area spread across the archipelago. Species (S) and link (L) richness both increased by approximately one order of magnitude across the five spatial scales. Links per species (L/S) more than doubled, while connectance (C) decreased by approximately two-thirds. Fourteen commonly studied properties of network structure varied systematically with spatial scale of sampling, some increasing and others decreasing. While ecological network properties varied systematically with sampling extent, analyses using the niche model and a power-law scaling relationship indicate that for many properties, this apparent sensitivity is attributable to the increasing S and decreasing C of webs with increasing spatial scale. As long as effects of S and C are accounted for, areal sampling bias does not have a special impact on our understanding of many aspects of network structure. However, attention does need be paid to some properties such as the fraction of species in loops, which increases more than expected with greater spatial scales of sampling. PMID:26380704

  6. The food web of a tropical rain forest

    SciTech Connect

    Reagan, D.P.; Waide, R.B.

    1996-12-31

    This book summarizes the natural history and trophic dynamics of a relatively simple tropical rain forest community. The community consists of the plants and animals inhabiting a 40 ha area of forest around the El Verde Field Station in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. The understanding is based on three decades (1963 to 1993) of investigations conducted or coordinated by the biologists in the Terrestrial Ecology Division of the University of Puerto Rico (formerly the Center for Energy and Environment Research) and by many visiting scientists who have worked at El Verde. The authors construct a comprehensive food web documenting the relationships among species in this community as a means of organizing the information that`s been collected. Lay-people, students, academics, resource managers, professional scientists, and others interested in the natural history of tropical forests should find points of interest in this book. In addition, ecologists specializing in the study of trophic dynamics are provided with a detailed food web from a biome underrepresented in the available data base and with the interpretations of the importance of this web.

  7. Food-web stability signals critical transitions in temperate shallow lakes

    PubMed Central

    Kuiper, Jan J.; van Altena, Cassandra; de Ruiter, Peter C.; van Gerven, Luuk P. A.; Janse, Jan H.; Mooij, Wolf M.

    2015-01-01

    A principal aim of ecologists is to identify critical levels of environmental change beyond which ecosystems undergo radical shifts in their functioning. Both food-web theory and alternative stable states theory provide fundamental clues to mechanisms conferring stability to natural systems. Yet, it is unclear how the concept of food-web stability is associated with the resilience of ecosystems susceptible to regime change. Here, we use a combination of food web and ecosystem modelling to show that impending catastrophic shifts in shallow lakes are preceded by a destabilizing reorganization of interaction strengths in the aquatic food web. Analysis of the intricate web of trophic interactions reveals that only few key interactions, involving zooplankton, diatoms and detritus, dictate the deterioration of food-web stability. Our study exposes a tight link between food-web dynamics and the dynamics of the whole ecosystem, implying that trophic organization may serve as an empirical indicator of ecosystem resilience. PMID:26173798

  8. Food-Web Structure of Seagrass Communities across Different Spatial Scales and Human Impacts

    PubMed Central

    Coll, Marta; Schmidt, Allison; Romanuk, Tamara; Lotze, Heike K.

    2011-01-01

    Seagrass beds provide important habitat for a wide range of marine species but are threatened by multiple human impacts in coastal waters. Although seagrass communities have been well-studied in the field, a quantification of their food-web structure and functioning, and how these change across space and human impacts has been lacking. Motivated by extensive field surveys and literature information, we analyzed the structural features of food webs associated with Zostera marina across 16 study sites in 3 provinces in Atlantic Canada. Our goals were to (i) quantify differences in food-web structure across local and regional scales and human impacts, (ii) assess the robustness of seagrass webs to simulated species loss, and (iii) compare food-web structure in temperate Atlantic seagrass beds with those of other aquatic ecosystems. We constructed individual food webs for each study site and cumulative webs for each province and the entire region based on presence/absence of species, and calculated 16 structural properties for each web. Our results indicate that food-web structure was similar among low impact sites across regions. With increasing human impacts associated with eutrophication, however, food-web structure show evidence of degradation as indicated by fewer trophic groups, lower maximum trophic level of the highest top predator, fewer trophic links connecting top to basal species, higher fractions of herbivores and intermediate consumers, and higher number of prey per species. These structural changes translate into functional changes with impacted sites being less robust to simulated species loss. Temperate Atlantic seagrass webs are similar to a tropical seagrass web, yet differed from other aquatic webs, suggesting consistent food-web characteristics across seagrass ecosystems in different regions. Our study illustrates that food-web structure and functioning of seagrass habitats change with human impacts and that the spatial scale of food-web analysis

  9. Food web dynamics in the Scotia Sea in summer: A stable isotope study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stowasser, G.; Atkinson, A.; McGill, R. A. R.; Phillips, R. A.; Collins, M. A.; Pond, D. W.

    2012-01-01

    The pelagic food web of the Scotia Sea was studied by analysing natural abundances of nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes of primary producers and pelagic consumers, sampled from the seasonal ice edge in the south to the Antarctic Polar Front in the north. The analysis covered, within a single mid-summer period, particulate organic matter (POM) and 38 taxa, ranging from suspension feeding copepods and salps to omnivorous euphausiids, pelagic fish and higher, land-based predators including fur seals, penguins and flying birds. Spatial variation in δ 15N of POM correlated well with nutrient availability and primary productivity. Latitudinal differences in δ 13C of POM were closely linked to variations in temperature, nutrients and productivity depending on the frontal region sampled. This translated to equivalent (although smaller) regional δ 13C differences among higher trophic levels. The trophic positions of species based on isotope values broadly agreed with previously published dietary data with three important exceptions. First, the carnivorous amphipod Themisto gaudichaudii had anomalously low δ 15N values. Second, Euphausia superba had δ 15N values that were also surprisingly low, considering the abundant literature suggesting its omnivory. Third, the copepod Rhincalanus gigas, considered a suspension feeder, had unexpectedly high δ 15N values rather more in keeping with omnivorous feeding. The consumer δ 15N values ranged from 1.2‰ (min.) measured in Salpa thompsoni (designated here as trophic level (TL) 2 across all regions) to 15.2‰ (max.) measured in white-chinned petrels ( Procellaria aequinoctialis, calculated as TL5 relative to the TL2 of salps). Excluding seabirds, the resulting food chain length of 3.7 TL (above POM at TL1) was lower than in most other Southern Ocean and temperate marine pelagic ecosystems. The majority (60%) of vertebrate predators occupied only 1-1.5 trophic levels above the herbivorous suspension feeders such as krill

  10. Bioaccumulation of toxaphene congeners in the lake superior food web

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Muir, D.C.G.; Whittle, D.M.; De Vault, D. S.; Bronte, C.R.; Karlsson, H.; Backus, S.; Teixeira, C.

    2004-01-01

    The bioaccumulation and biotransformation of toxaphene was examined in the food webs of Lake Superior and Siskiwit Lake (Isle Royale) using congener specific analysis as well as stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen to characterize food webs. Toxaphene concentrations (calculated using technical toxaphene) in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) from the western basin of Lake Superior (N = 95) averaged (±SD) 889 ± 896 ng/g wet wt and 60 ± 34 ng/g wet wt in Siskiwit Lake. Major congeners in lake trout were B8-789 (P38), B8-2226 (P44), B9-1679 (P50), and B9-1025 (P62). Toxaphene concentrations were found to vary seasonally, especially in lower food web organisms in Lake Superior and to a lesser extent in Siskiwit Lake. Toxaphene concentrations declined significantly in lake herring (Coregonus artedii), rainbow smelt (Omerus mordax), and slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus) as well as in zooplankton (> 102 &mn;m) and Mysis (Mysis relicta) between May and October. The seasonal variation may reflect seasonal shifts in the species abundance within the zooplankton community. Trophic magnification factors (TMF) derived from regressions of toxaphene congener concentrations versus δ15N were > 1 for most octa- and nonachlorobornanes in Lake Superior except B8-1413 (P26) and B9-715. Log bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) for toxaphene congeners in lake trout (ng/g lipid/ng/L dissolved) ranged from 4.54 to 9.7 and were significantly correlated with log octanol-water partition coefficients. TMFs observed for total toxaphene and congener B9-1679 in Lake Superior were similar to those in Arctic lakes, as well as to previous studies in the Great Lakes, which suggests that the bioaccumulation behavior of toxaphene is similar in pelagic food webs of large, cold water systems. However, toxaphene concentrations were lower in lake trout from Siskiwit Lake and lakes in northwestern Ontario than in Lake Superior possibly because of shorter food chains and greater reliance on zooplankton or

  11. Evolutionary conservation of species' roles in food webs.

    PubMed

    Stouffer, Daniel B; Sales-Pardo, Marta; Sirer, M Irmak; Bascompte, Jordi

    2012-03-23

    Studies of ecological networks (the web of interactions between species in a community) demonstrate an intricate link between a community's structure and its long-term viability. It remains unclear, however, how much a community's persistence depends on the identities of the species present, or how much the role played by each species varies as a function of the community in which it is found. We measured species' roles by studying how species are embedded within the overall network and the subsequent dynamic implications. Using data from 32 empirical food webs, we find that species' roles and dynamic importance are inherent species attributes and can be extrapolated across communities on the basis of taxonomic classification alone. Our results illustrate the variability of roles across species and communities and the relative importance of distinct species groups when attempting to conserve ecological communities.

  12. Effects of extinction on food web structures on an evolutionary time scale.

    PubMed

    Hironaga, Ryo; Yamamura, Norio

    2010-03-21

    Extinction affected food web structure in paleoecosystems. Recent theoretical studies that examined the effects of extinction intensity on food web structure on ecological time scales have considered extinction to involve episodic events, with pre-extinction food webs becoming established without dynamics. However, in terms of the paleontological time scale, food web structures are generated from feedback with repeated extinctions, because extinction frequency is affected by food web structure, and food web structure itself is a product of previous extinctions. We constructed a simulation model of changes in tri-trophic-level food webs to examine how continual extinction events affect food webs on an evolutionary time scale. We showed that under high extinction intensity (1) species diversity, especially that of consumer species, decreased; (2) the total population density at each trophic level decreased, while the densities of individual species increased; and (3) the trophic link density of the food web increased. In contrast to previous models, our results were based on an assumption of long-term food web development and are able to explain overall trends posited by empirical investigations based on fossil records.

  13. Primary production, sinking fluxes and the microbial food web

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Michaels, Anthony F.; Silver, Mary W.

    1988-04-01

    The size distribution of pelagic producers and the size and trophic position of consumers determine the composition and magnitude of sinking fluxes from the surface communities in a simple model of oceanic food webs. Picoplankton, the dominant producers in the model, contribute little to the sinking material, due primarily to the large number of trophic steps between picoplankton and the consumers that produce the sinking particles. Net phytoplankton are important contributors to the sinking materials, despite accounting for a small fraction of the total primary production. These net phytoplankton, especially those capable of nitrogen fixation, also dominate the fraction of the new production that is exported on its first pass through the food chain. The sinking flux is strongly determined by the community structure of the consumers and varies by an order of magnitude for different food webs. The model indicates that generalist grazers, zooplankton that consume a broad size spectrum of prey (including pico-and nanoplankton), play a critical role in exporting particles. The role of generalists that occasionally form swarms, such as thaliaceans (salps and doliolids), can be particularly difficult to assess. Short-term studies probably miss the relatively infrequent population blooms of these grazers, events that could control the average, long-term exports from surface oceanic communities.

  14. Nutrient subsidies to belowground microbes impact aboveground food web interactions.

    PubMed

    Hines, Jes; Megonigal, J Patrick; Denno, Robert F

    2006-06-01

    Historically, terrestrial food web theory has been compartmentalized into interactions among aboveground or belowground communities. In this study we took a more synthetic approach to understanding food web interactions by simultaneously examining four trophic levels and investigating how nutrient (nitrogen and carbon) and detrital subsidies impact the ability of the belowground microbial community to alter the abundance of aboveground arthropods (herbivores and predators) associated with the intertidal cord grass Spartina alterniflora. We manipulated carbon, nitrogen, and detrital resources in a field experiment and measured decomposition rate, soil nitrogen pools, plant biomass and quality, herbivore density, and arthropod predator abundance. Because carbon subsidies impact plant growth only indirectly (microbial pathways), whereas nitrogen additions both directly (plant uptake) and indirectly (microbial pathways) impact plant primary productivity, we were able to assess the effect of both belowground soil microbes and nutrient availability on aboveground herbivores and their predators. Herbivore density in the field was suppressed by carbon supplements. Carbon addition altered soil microbial dynamics (net potential ammonification, litter decomposition rate, DON [dissolved organic N] concentration), which limited inorganic soil nitrogen availability and reduced plant size as well as predator abundance. Nitrogen addition enhanced herbivore density by increasing plant size and quality directly by increasing inorganic soil nitrogen pools, and indirectly by enhancing microbial nitrification. Detritus adversely affected aboveground herbivores mainly by promoting predator aggregation. To date, the effects of carbon and nitrogen subsidies on salt marshes have been examined as isolated effects on either the aboveground or the belowground community. Our results emphasize the importance of directly addressing the soil microbial community as a factor that influences

  15. Facilitating Scientific Collaboration and Education with Easy Access Web Maps Using the AGAP Antarctic Geophysical Data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Abdi, A.

    2012-12-01

    Science and science education benefit from easy access to data yet often geophysical data sets are large, complex and difficult to share. The difficulty in sharing data and imagery easily inhibits both collaboration and the use of real data in educational applications. The dissemination of data products through web maps serves a very efficient and user-friendly method for students, the public and the science community to gain insights and understanding from data. Few research groups provide direct access to their data, let alone map-based visualizations. By building upon current GIS infrastructure with web mapping technologies, like ArcGIS Server, scientific groups, institutions and agencies can enhance the value of their GIS investments. The advantages of web maps to serve data products are many; existing web-mapping technology allows complex GIS analysis to be shared across the Internet, and can be easily scaled from a few users to millions. This poster highlights the features of an interactive web map developed at the Polar Geophysics Group at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University that provides a visual representation of, and access to, data products that resulted from the group's recently concluded AGAP project (http://pgg.ldeo.columbia.edu). The AGAP project collected more than 120,000 line km of new aerogeophysical data using two Twin Otter aircrafts. Data included ice penetrating radar, magnetometer, gravimeter and laser altimeter measurements. The web map is based upon ArcGIS Viewer for Flex, which is a configurable client application built on the ArcGIS API for Flex that works seamlessly with ArcGIS Server 10. The application can serve a variety of raster and vector file formats through the Data Interoperability for Server, which eliminates data sharing barriers across numerous file formats. The ability of the application to serve large datasets is only hindered by the availability of appropriate hardware. ArcGIS is a proprietary

  16. Trophic structure, stability, and parasite persistence threshold in food webs.

    PubMed

    McQuaid, C Finn; Britton, Nicholas F

    2013-11-01

    Food web structure of free-living species is an important determinant of parasite species richness. Downwardly asymmetric predator-prey interactions (where there are more prey than predator species) have been shown, both theoretically and empirically, to harbour more trophically transmitted parasite species than expected due to chance. Here, we demonstrate that this could be due to the increase in the basic reproductive ratio that the addition of non-host prey species to a system creates. However, we note that the basic reproductive ratio is only increased by those prey that stabilise oscillations in a predator-prey system, and is decreased by those that do not. PMID:23943365

  17. Food-web based unified model of macro- and microevolution.

    PubMed

    Chowdhury, Debashish; Stauffer, Dietrich

    2003-10-01

    We incorporate the generic hierarchical architecture of foodwebs into a "unified" model that describes both micro- and macroevolutions within a single theoretical framework. This model describes the microevolution in detail by accounting for the birth, ageing, and natural death of individual organisms as well as prey-predator interactions on a hierarchical dynamic food web. It also provides a natural description of random mutations and speciation (origination) of species as well as their extinctions. The distribution of lifetimes of species follows an approximate power law only over a limited regime.

  18. A synthesis of bentho-pelagic coupling on the Antarctic shelf: Food banks, ecosystem inertia and global climate change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smith, Craig R.; Mincks, Sarah; DeMaster, David J.

    2006-04-01

    The Antarctic continental shelf is large, deep (500-1000 m), and characterized by extreme seasonality in sea-ice cover and primary production. Intense seasonality and short pelagic foodwebs on the Antarctic shelf may favor strong bentho-pelagic coupling, whereas unusual water depth combined with complex topography and circulation could cause such coupling to be weak. Here, we address six questions regarding the nature and strength of coupling between benthic and water-column processes on the continental shelf surrounding Antarctica. We find that water-column production is transmitted to the shelf floor in intense pulses of particulate organic matter, although these pulses are often difficult to correlate with local phytoplankton blooms or sea-ice conditions. On regional scales, benthic habitat variability resulting from substrate type, current regime, and iceberg scour often may obscure the imprint of water-column productivity on the seafloor. However, within a single habitat type, i.e. the muddy sediments that characterize much of the deep Antarctic shelf, macrobenthic biomass appears to be correlated with regional primary production and sea-ice duration. Over annual time-scales, many benthic ecological processes were initially expected to vary in phase with the extraordinary boom/bust cycle of production in the water column. However, numerous processes, including sediment respiration, deposit feeding, larval development, and recruitment, often are poorly coupled to the summer bloom season. Several integrative, time-series studies on the Antarctic shelf suggest that this lack of phasing may result in part from the accumulation of a persistent sediment food bank that buffers the benthic ecosystem from the seasonal variability of the water column. As a consequence, a variety of benthic parameters (e.g., sediment respiration, inventories of labile organic matter, macrobenthic biomass) may act as "low-pass" filters, responding to longer-term (e.g., inter

  19. Land use alters the resistance and resilience of soil food webs to drought

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    de Vries, Franciska T.; Liiri, Mira E.; Bjørnlund, Lisa; Bowker, Matthew A.; Christensen, Søren; Setälä, Heikki; Bardgett, Richard D.

    2012-01-01

    Soils deliver several ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling, which are of central importance to climate mitigation and sustainable food production. Soil biota play an important role in carbon and nitrogen cycling, and, although the effects of land use on soil food webs are well documented the consequences for their resistance and resilience to climate change are not known. We compared the resistance and resilience to drought--which is predicted to increase under climate change of soil food webs of two common land-use systems: intensively managed wheat with a bacterial-based soil food web and extensively managed grassland with a fungal-based soil food web. We found that the fungal-based food web, and the processes of C and N loss it governs, of grassland soil was more resistant, although not resilient, and better able to adapt to drought than the bacterial-based food web of wheat soil. Structural equation modelling revealed that fungal-based soil food webs and greater microbial evenness mitigated C and N loss. Our findings show that land use strongly affects the resistance and resilience of soil food webs to climate change, and that extensively managed grassland promotes more resistant, and adaptable, fungal-based soil food webs.

  20. Stable isotopes dissect aquatic food webs from the top to the bottom

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Middelburg, J. J.

    2014-04-01

    Stable isotopes have been used extensively to study food-web functioning, that is, the flow of energy and matter among organisms. Traditional food-web studies are based on the natural variability of isotopes and are limited to larger organisms that can be physically separated from their environment. Recent developments allow isotope ratio measurements of microbes and this in turn allows the measurement of entire food webs, in other words, from small producers at the bottom to large consumers at the top. Here, I provide a concise review on the use and potential of stable isotopes to reconstruct end-to-end food webs. I will first discuss food web reconstruction based on natural abundances isotope data and will then show that the use of stable isotopes as deliberately added tracers provides complementary information. Finally, challenges and opportunities for end-to-end food web reconstructions in a changing world are discussed.

  1. Food-web complexity, meta-community complexity and community stability

    PubMed Central

    Mougi, A.; Kondoh, M.

    2016-01-01

    What allows interacting, diverse species to coexist in nature has been a central question in ecology, ever since the theoretical prediction that a complex community should be inherently unstable. Although the role of spatiality in species coexistence has been recognized, its application to more complex systems has been less explored. Here, using a meta-community model of food web, we show that meta-community complexity, measured by the number of local food webs and their connectedness, elicits a self-regulating, negative-feedback mechanism and thus stabilizes food-web dynamics. Moreover, the presence of meta-community complexity can give rise to a positive food-web complexity-stability effect. Spatiality may play a more important role in stabilizing dynamics of complex, real food webs than expected from ecological theory based on the models of simpler food webs. PMID:27071716

  2. Moving up the information food chain: Deploying softbots on the World Wide Web

    SciTech Connect

    Etzioni, O.

    1996-12-31

    I view the World Wide Web as an information food chain. The maze of pages and hyperlinks that comprise the Web are at the very bottom of the chain. The WebCrawlers and Alta Vistas of the world are information herbivores; they graze on Web pages and regurgitate them as searchable indices. Today, most Web users feed near the bottom of the information food chain, but the time is ripe to move up. Since 1991, we have been building information carnivores, which intelligently hunt and feast on herbivores in Unix, on the Internet, and on the Web.

  3. Non-deterministic modelling of food-web dynamics.

    PubMed

    Planque, Benjamin; Lindstrøm, Ulf; Subbey, Sam

    2014-01-01

    A novel approach to model food-web dynamics, based on a combination of chance (randomness) and necessity (system constraints), was presented by Mullon et al. in 2009. Based on simulations for the Benguela ecosystem, they concluded that observed patterns of ecosystem variability may simply result from basic structural constraints within which the ecosystem functions. To date, and despite the importance of these conclusions, this work has received little attention. The objective of the present paper is to replicate this original model and evaluate the conclusions that were derived from its simulations. For this purpose, we revisit the equations and input parameters that form the structure of the original model and implement a comparable simulation model. We restate the model principles and provide a detailed account of the model structure, equations, and parameters. Our model can reproduce several ecosystem dynamic patterns: pseudo-cycles, variation and volatility, diet, stock-recruitment relationships, and correlations between species biomass series. The original conclusions are supported to a large extent by the current replication of the model. Model parameterisation and computational aspects remain difficult and these need to be investigated further. Hopefully, the present contribution will make this approach available to a larger research community and will promote the use of non-deterministic-network-dynamics models as 'null models of food-webs' as originally advocated. PMID:25299245

  4. Mesoscale symmetries explain dynamical equivalence of food webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aufderheide, Helge; Rudolf, Lars; Gross, Thilo

    2012-10-01

    A goal of complex system research is to identify the dynamical implications of network structure. While early results focused mainly on local or global structural properties, there is now growing interest in mesoscale structures that comprise more than one node but not the whole network. A central challenge is to discover under what conditions the occurrence of a specific mesoscale motif already allows conclusions on the dynamics of a network as a whole. In this paper, we investigate the dynamics of ecological food webs, complex heterogeneous networks of interacting populations. Generalizing the results of MacArthur and Sánchez-García (2009 Phys. Rev. E 80 26117), we show that certain mesoscale symmetries imply the existence of localized dynamical modes. If these modes are unstable the occurrence of the corresponding mesoscale motif implies dynamical instability regardless of the structure of the embedding network. In contrast, if the mode is stable it means that the symmetry can be exploited to reduce the number of nodes in the model, without changing the dynamics of the system. This result explains a previously observed dynamical equivalence between food webs containing a different number of species.

  5. The ecological potentials of Phytomyxea ("plasmodiophorids") in aquatic food webs.

    PubMed

    Neuhauser, Sigrid; Kirchmair, Martin; Gleason, Frank H

    2011-01-01

    The Phytomyxea ("plasmodiophorids") including both Plasmodiophorida and Phagomyxida is a monophyletic group of Eukaryotes composed of obligate biotrophic parasites of green plants, brown algae, diatoms and stramenopiles commonly found in many freshwater, soil and marine environments. However, most research on Phytomyxea has been restricted to plant pathogenic species with agricultural importance, thereby missing the huge ecological potential of this enigmatic group of parasites. Members of the Phytomyxea can induce changes in biomass in their hosts (e.g. hypertrophies of the host tissue) under suitable environmental conditions. Upon infection they alter the metabolism of their hosts, consequently changing the metabolic status of their host. This results in an altered chemical composition of the host tissue, which impacts the diversity of species which feed on the tissues of the infected host and on the zoospores produced by the parasites. Furthermore, significant amounts of nutrients derived from the hosts, both primary producers (plants and algae) and primary consumers (litter decomposers and plant parasites [Oomycetes]), can enter the food web at different trophic levels in form of zoospores and resting spores. Large numbers of zoospores and resting spores are produced which can be eaten by secondary and tertiary consumers, such as grazing zooplankton and metazoan filter-feeders. Therefore, these microbes can act as energy-rich nutrient resources which may significantly alter the trophic relationships in fresh water, soil and marine habitats. Based on the presented data, Phytomyxea can significantly contribute to the complexity and energy transfer within food webs.

  6. Model of carbon cycling in planktonic food webs

    SciTech Connect

    Connolly, J.P.; Coffin, R.B.

    1995-10-01

    A mathematical model of carbon fluxes through the heterotrophic microbial food web is developed from a synthesis of laboratory and field research. The basis of the model is the segregation of organic carbon into lability classes that are defined by bioassay experiments. Bacteria, phytoplankton, three trophic levels of zooplankton, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) are modeled. The descriptions of bacterial growth and utilization of the various classes of substrate were treated as universal constants in the application of the model to three distinct ecosystems, ranging from oligotrophic to highly eutrophic. The successful application of the model to these diverse ecosystems supports the basic validity of the description of the microbial food web and the dynamics of carbon flux. The model indicates that the dynamics of bacteria and protozoan zooplankton production govern the rates of oxidation of carbon entering the water column. Explicit consideration of these groups would improve the capability of eutrophication models to predict dissolved oxygen dynamics, particularly when projecting responses to loading changes.

  7. Biomagnification of polychlorinated biphenyls through a riverine food web

    SciTech Connect

    Zaranko, D.T.; Kaushik, N.K.; Griffiths, R.W.

    1997-07-01

    From 1989 to 1993, biota collected from Pottersburg Creek, London, ON, Canada were analyzed for total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lipids. Data were analyzed by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with lipid as the covariate, to investigate station, time, and trophic effects on PCB accumulation in aquatic organisms. All three variables were highly significant. PCB concentrations in biota decreased along the length of the creek away from the point source. PCB concentrations in biota collected in July 1993 were not significantly different from concentrations in biota collected in July 1990, suggesting that sources into the creek have not been alleviated. The relationship between PCBs and lipid for biota from Pottersburg Creek suggests that organisms accumulate PCBs relative to their position in the food web. Fish and leeches occupying the top of the food web accumulated more PCBs than organisms occupying a lower trophic position (crayfish and oligochaetes/chironomids), indicating that biomagnification through trophic transfer (i.e., the uptake of a chemical through ingestion) is the primary mechanism governing contaminant levels in biota and not bioconcentration (i.e, the uptake of a chemical from water).

  8. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in evolving food webs.

    PubMed

    Allhoff, K T; Drossel, B

    2016-05-19

    We use computer simulations in order to study the interplay between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) during both the formation and the ongoing evolution of large food webs. A species in our model is characterized by its own body mass, its preferred prey body mass and the width of its potential prey body mass spectrum. On an ecological time scale, population dynamics determines which species are viable and which ones go extinct. On an evolutionary time scale, new species emerge as modifications of existing ones. The network structure thus emerges and evolves in a self-organized manner. We analyse the relation between functional diversity and five community level measures of ecosystem functioning. These are the metabolic loss of the predator community, the total biomasses of the basal and the predator community, and the consumption rates on the basal community and within the predator community. Clear BEF relations are observed during the initial build-up of the networks, or when parameters are varied, causing bottom-up or top-down effects. However, ecosystem functioning measures fluctuate only very little during long-term evolution under constant environmental conditions, despite changes in functional diversity. This result supports the hypothesis that trophic cascades are weaker in more complex food webs.

  9. Dynamics of the Lake Michigan food web, 1970-2000

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Madenjian, Charles P.; Fahnenstiel, Gary L.; Johengen, Thomas H.; Nalepa, Thomas F.; Vanderploeg, Henry A.; Fleischer, Guy W.; Schneeberger, Philip J.; Benjamin, Darren M.; Smith, Emily B.; Bence, James R.; Rutherford, Edward S.; Lavis, Dennis S.; Robertson, Dale M.; Jude, David J.; Ebener, Mark P.

    2002-01-01

    Herein, we document changes in the Lake Michigan food web between 1970 and 2000 and identify the factors responsible for these changes. Control of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) and alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) populations in Lake Michigan, beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, had profound effects on the food web. Recoveries of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and burbot (Lota lota) populations, as well as the buildup of salmonine populations, were attributable, at least in part, to sea lamprey control. Based on our analyses, predation by salmonines was primarily responsible for the reduction in alewife abundance during the 1970s and early 1980s. In turn, the decrease in alewife abundance likely contributed to recoveries of deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsoni), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and burbot populations during the 1970s and 1980s. Decrease in the abundance of all three dominant benthic macroinvertebrate groups, including Diporeia, oligochaetes, and sphaeriids, during the 1980s in nearshore waters (50 m deep) of Lake Michigan, was attributable to a decrease in primary production linked to a decline in phosphorus loadings. Continued decrease in Diporeia abundance during the 1990s was associated with the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) invasion, but specific mechanisms for zebra mussels affecting Diporeia abundance remain unidentified.

  10. Biotransport of Algal Toxins to Riparian Food Webs.

    PubMed

    Moy, Nicholas J; Dodson, Jenna; Tassone, Spencer J; Bukaveckas, Paul A; Bulluck, Lesley P

    2016-09-20

    The occurrence of harmful algal blooms has resulted in growing worldwide concern about threats to aquatic life and human health. Microcystin (MC), a cyanotoxin, is the most widely reported algal toxin in freshwaters. Prior studies have documented its presence in aquatic food webs including commercially important fish and shellfish. In this paper we present the first evidence that algal toxins propagate into riparian food webs. We show that MC is present in emerging aquatic insects (Hexagenia mayflies) from the James River Estuary and their consumers (Tetragnathidae spiders and Prothonotary Warblers, Protonotaria citrea). MC levels in Prothonotary Warblers varied by age class, with nestlings having the highest levels. At the site where nestlings received a higher proportion of aquatic prey (i.e., mayflies) in their diet, we observed higher MC concentrations in liver tissue and fecal matter. Warbler body condition and growth rate were not related to liver MC levels, suggesting that aquatic prey may provide dietary benefits that offset potential deleterious effects of the toxin. This study provides evidence that threats posed by algal toxins extend beyond the aquatic environments in which blooms occur.

  11. Application of information theory methods to food web reconstruction

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Moniz, L.J.; Cooch, E.G.; Ellner, S.P.; Nichols, J.D.; Nichols, J.M.

    2007-01-01

    In this paper we use information theory techniques on time series of abundances to determine the topology of a food web. At the outset, the food web participants (two consumers, two resources) are known; in addition we know that each consumer prefers one of the resources over the other. However, we do not know which consumer prefers which resource, and if this preference is absolute (i.e., whether or not the consumer will consume the non-preferred resource). Although the consumers and resources are identified at the beginning of the experiment, we also provide evidence that the consumers are not resources for each other, and the resources do not consume each other. We do show that there is significant mutual information between resources; the model is seasonally forced and some shared information between resources is expected. Similarly, because the model is seasonally forced, we expect shared information between consumers as they respond to the forcing of the resources. The model that we consider does include noise, and in an effort to demonstrate that these methods may be of some use in other than model data, we show the efficacy of our methods with decreasing time series size; in this particular case we obtain reasonably clear results with a time series length of 400 points. This approaches ecological time series lengths from real systems.

  12. Significance of predation by protists in aquatic microbial food webs.

    PubMed

    Sherr, Evelyn B; Sherr, Barry F

    2002-08-01

    Predation in aquatic microbial food webs is dominated by phagotrophic protists, yet these microorganisms are still understudied compared to bacteria and phytoplankton. In pelagic ecosystems, predaceous protists are ubiquitous, range in size from 2 gm flagellates to > 100 microm ciliates and dinoflagellates, and exhibit a wide array of feeding strategies. Their trophic states run the gamut from strictly phagotrophic, to mixotrophic: partly autotrophic and partly phagotrophic, to primarily autotrophic but capable of phagotrophy. Protists are a major source of mortality for both heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria. They compete with herbivorous meso- and macro-zooplankton for all size classes of phytoplankton. Protist grazing may affect the rate of organic sinking flux from the euphotic zone. Protist excretions are an important source of remineralized nutrients, and of colloidal and dissolved trace metals such as iron, in aquatic systems. Work on predation by protists is being facilitated by methodological advances, e.g., molecular genetic analysis of protistan diversity and application of flow cytometry to study population growth and feeding rates. Examples of new research areas are studies of impact of protistan predation on the community structure of prey assemblages and of chemical communication between predator and prey in microbial food webs.

  13. Biotransport of Algal Toxins to Riparian Food Webs.

    PubMed

    Moy, Nicholas J; Dodson, Jenna; Tassone, Spencer J; Bukaveckas, Paul A; Bulluck, Lesley P

    2016-09-20

    The occurrence of harmful algal blooms has resulted in growing worldwide concern about threats to aquatic life and human health. Microcystin (MC), a cyanotoxin, is the most widely reported algal toxin in freshwaters. Prior studies have documented its presence in aquatic food webs including commercially important fish and shellfish. In this paper we present the first evidence that algal toxins propagate into riparian food webs. We show that MC is present in emerging aquatic insects (Hexagenia mayflies) from the James River Estuary and their consumers (Tetragnathidae spiders and Prothonotary Warblers, Protonotaria citrea). MC levels in Prothonotary Warblers varied by age class, with nestlings having the highest levels. At the site where nestlings received a higher proportion of aquatic prey (i.e., mayflies) in their diet, we observed higher MC concentrations in liver tissue and fecal matter. Warbler body condition and growth rate were not related to liver MC levels, suggesting that aquatic prey may provide dietary benefits that offset potential deleterious effects of the toxin. This study provides evidence that threats posed by algal toxins extend beyond the aquatic environments in which blooms occur. PMID:27552323

  14. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in evolving food webs.

    PubMed

    Allhoff, K T; Drossel, B

    2016-05-19

    We use computer simulations in order to study the interplay between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) during both the formation and the ongoing evolution of large food webs. A species in our model is characterized by its own body mass, its preferred prey body mass and the width of its potential prey body mass spectrum. On an ecological time scale, population dynamics determines which species are viable and which ones go extinct. On an evolutionary time scale, new species emerge as modifications of existing ones. The network structure thus emerges and evolves in a self-organized manner. We analyse the relation between functional diversity and five community level measures of ecosystem functioning. These are the metabolic loss of the predator community, the total biomasses of the basal and the predator community, and the consumption rates on the basal community and within the predator community. Clear BEF relations are observed during the initial build-up of the networks, or when parameters are varied, causing bottom-up or top-down effects. However, ecosystem functioning measures fluctuate only very little during long-term evolution under constant environmental conditions, despite changes in functional diversity. This result supports the hypothesis that trophic cascades are weaker in more complex food webs. PMID:27114582

  15. Effects of Whaling on the Structure of the Southern Ocean Food Web: Insights on the “Krill Surplus” from Ecosystem Modelling

    PubMed Central

    Surma, Szymon; Pakhomov, Evgeny A.; Pitcher, Tony J.

    2014-01-01

    The aim of this study was to examine the ecological plausibility of the “krill surplus” hypothesis and the effects of whaling on the Southern Ocean food web using mass-balance ecosystem modelling. The depletion trajectory and unexploited biomass of each rorqual population in the Antarctic was reconstructed using yearly catch records and a set of species-specific surplus production models. The resulting estimates of the unexploited biomass of Antarctic rorquals were used to construct an Ecopath model of the Southern Ocean food web existing in 1900. The rorqual depletion trajectory was then used in an Ecosim scenario to drive rorqual biomasses and examine the “krill surplus” phenomenon and whaling effects on the food web in the years 1900–2008. An additional suite of Ecosim scenarios reflecting several hypothetical trends in Southern Ocean primary productivity were employed to examine the effect of bottom-up forcing on the documented krill biomass trend. The output of the Ecosim scenarios indicated that while the “krill surplus” hypothesis is a plausible explanation of the biomass trends observed in some penguin and pinniped species in the mid-20th century, the excess krill biomass was most likely eliminated by a rapid decline in primary productivity in the years 1975–1995. Our findings suggest that changes in physical conditions in the Southern Ocean during this time period could have eliminated the ecological effects of rorqual depletion, although the mechanism responsible is currently unknown. Furthermore, a decline in iron bioavailability due to rorqual depletion may have contributed to the rapid decline in overall Southern Ocean productivity during the last quarter of the 20th century. The results of this study underscore the need for further research on historical changes in the roles of top-down and bottom-up forcing in structuring the Southern Ocean food web. PMID:25517505

  16. Native and nonnative fish populations of the Colorado River are food limited--evidence from new food web analyses

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kennedy, Theodore A.; Cross, Wyatt F.; Hall, Robert O.; Baxter, Colden V.; Rosi-Marshall, Emma J.

    2013-01-01

    Fish populations in the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam appear to be limited by the availability of high-quality invertebrate prey. Midge and blackfly production is low and nonnative rainbow trout in Glen Canyon and native fishes in Grand Canyon consume virtually all of the midge and blackfly biomass that is produced annually. In Glen Canyon, the invertebrate assemblage is dominated by nonnative New Zealand mudsnails, the food web has a simple structure, and transfers of energy from the base of the web (algae) to the top of the web (rainbow trout) are inefficient. The food webs in Grand Canyon are more complex relative to Glen Canyon, because, on average, each species in the web is involved in more interactions and feeding connections. Based on theory and on studies from other ecosystems, the structure and organization of Grand Canyon food webs should make them more stable and less susceptible to large changes following perturbations of the flow regime relative to food webs in Glen Canyon. In support of this hypothesis, Grand Canyon food webs were much less affected by a 2008 controlled flood relative to the food web in Glen Canyon.

  17. Modelling size structured food webs using a modified niche model with two predator traits.

    PubMed

    Klecka, Jan

    2014-01-01

    The structure of food webs is frequently described using phenomenological stochastic models. A prominent example, the niche model, was found to produce artificial food webs resembling real food webs according to a range of summary statistics. However, the size structure of food webs generated by the niche model and real food webs has not yet been rigorously compared. To fill this void, I use a body mass based version of the niche model and compare prey-predator body mass allometry and predator-prey body mass ratios predicted by the model to empirical data. The results show that the model predicts weaker size structure than observed in many real food webs. I introduce a modified version of the niche model which allows to control the strength of size-dependence of predator-prey links. In this model, optimal prey body mass depends allometrically on predator body mass and on a second trait, such as foraging mode. These empirically motivated extensions of the model allow to represent size structure of real food webs realistically and can be used to generate artificial food webs varying in several aspects of size structure in a controlled way. Hence, by explicitly including the role of species traits, this model provides new opportunities for simulating the consequences of size structure for food web dynamics and stability.

  18. Evidence for the persistence of food web structure after amphibian extirpation in a Neotropical stream.

    PubMed

    Barnum, Thomas R; Drake, John M; Colón-Gaud, Checo; Rugenski, Amanda T; Frauendorf, Therese C; Connelly, Scott; Kilham, Susan S; Whiles, Matt R; Lips, Karen R; Pringle, Catherine M

    2015-08-01

    Species losses are predicted to simplify food web structure, and disease-driven amphibian declines in Central America offer an opportunity to test this prediction. Assessment of insect community composition, combined with gut content analyses, was used to generate periphyton-insect food webs for a Panamanian stream, both pre- and post-amphibian decline. We then used network analysis to assess the effects of amphibian declines on food web structure. Although 48% of consumer taxa, including many insect taxa, were lost between pre- and post-amphibian decline sampling dates, connectance declined by less than 3%. We then quantified the resilience of food web structure by calculating the number of expected cascading extirpations from the loss of tadpoles. This analysis showed the expected effects of species loss on connectance and linkage density to be more than 60% and 40%, respectively, than were actually observed. Instead, new trophic linkages in the post-decline food web reorganized the food web topology, changing the identity of "hub" taxa, and consequently reducing the effects of amphibian declines on many food web attributes. Resilience of food web attributes was driven by a combination of changes in consumer diets, particularly those of insect predators, as well as the appearance of generalist insect consumers, suggesting that food web structure is maintained by factors independent of the original trophic linkages.

  19. Evidence for the persistence of food web structure after amphibian extirpation in a Neotropical stream.

    PubMed

    Barnum, Thomas R; Drake, John M; Colón-Gaud, Checo; Rugenski, Amanda T; Frauendorf, Therese C; Connelly, Scott; Kilham, Susan S; Whiles, Matt R; Lips, Karen R; Pringle, Catherine M

    2015-08-01

    Species losses are predicted to simplify food web structure, and disease-driven amphibian declines in Central America offer an opportunity to test this prediction. Assessment of insect community composition, combined with gut content analyses, was used to generate periphyton-insect food webs for a Panamanian stream, both pre- and post-amphibian decline. We then used network analysis to assess the effects of amphibian declines on food web structure. Although 48% of consumer taxa, including many insect taxa, were lost between pre- and post-amphibian decline sampling dates, connectance declined by less than 3%. We then quantified the resilience of food web structure by calculating the number of expected cascading extirpations from the loss of tadpoles. This analysis showed the expected effects of species loss on connectance and linkage density to be more than 60% and 40%, respectively, than were actually observed. Instead, new trophic linkages in the post-decline food web reorganized the food web topology, changing the identity of "hub" taxa, and consequently reducing the effects of amphibian declines on many food web attributes. Resilience of food web attributes was driven by a combination of changes in consumer diets, particularly those of insect predators, as well as the appearance of generalist insect consumers, suggesting that food web structure is maintained by factors independent of the original trophic linkages. PMID:26405736

  20. Projected changes of Antarctic krill habitat by the end of the 21st century

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Piñones, Andrea; Fedorov, Alexey V.

    2016-08-01

    Climate change is rapidly shaping the living environment of the most abundant keystone species of the Antarctic marine food web, Antarctic krill. Projected future changes for the krill habitat include a sustained increase in ocean temperature and changes in sea ice and chlorophyll a. Here we investigate how these factors affect the early life history of krill and identify the regions around Antarctica where the impact will be greatest. Our tool is a temperature-dependent krill growth model forced by data from comprehensive greenhouse warming simulations. We find that by the year 2100 localized regions along the western Weddell Sea, isolated areas of the Indian Antarctic , and the Amundsen/Bellingshausen Sea will support successful spawning habitats for krill. The failure of potentially successful spawning will have a strong impact on the already declining adult populations with consequences for the Antarctic marine food web, having both ecological and commercial ramifications.

  1. Spatial scales of carbon flow in a river food web

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Finlay, J.C.; Khandwala, S.; Power, M.E.

    2002-01-01

    Spatial extents of food webs that support stream and river consumers are largely unknown, but such information is essential for basic understanding and management of lotic ecosystems. We used predictable variation in algal ??13C with water velocity, and measurements of consumer ??13C and ??15N to examine carbon flow and trophic structure in food webs of the South Fork Eel River in Northern California. Analyses of ??13C showed that the most abundant macroinvertebrate groups (collector-gatherers and scrapers) relied on algae from local sources within their riffle or shallow pool habitats. In contrast, filter-feeding invertebrates in riffles relied in part on algal production derived from upstream shallow pools. Riffle invertebrate predators also relied in part on consumers of pool-derived algal carbon. One abundant taxon drifting from shallow pools and riffles (baetid mayflies) relied on algal production derived from the habitats from which they dispersed. The trophic linkage from pool algae to riffle invertebrate predators was thus mediated through either predation on pool herbivores dispersing into riffles, or on filter feeders. Algal production in shallow pool habitats dominated the resource base of vertebrate predators in all habitats at the end of the summer. We could not distinguish between the trophic roles of riffle algae and terrestrial detritus, but both carbon sources appeared to play minor roles for vertebrate consumers. In shallow pools, small vertebrates, including three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), roach (Hesperoleucas symmetricus), and rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa), relied on invertebrate prey derived from local pool habitats. During the most productive summer period, growth of all size classes of steelhead and resident rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in all habitats (shallow pools, riffles, and deep unproductive pools) was largely derived from algal production in shallow pools. Preliminary data suggest that the strong

  2. Food and Beverage Brands that Market to Children and Adolescents on the Internet: A Content Analysis of Branded Web Sites

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Henry, Anna E.; Story, Mary

    2009-01-01

    Objective: To identify food and beverage brand Web sites featuring designated children's areas, assess marketing techniques present on those industry Web sites, and determine nutritional quality of branded food items marketed to children. Design: Systematic content analysis of food and beverage brand Web sites and nutrient analysis of food and…

  3. The probabilistic niche model reveals substantial variation in the niche structure of empirical food webs.

    PubMed

    Williams, Richard J; Purves, Drew W

    2011-09-01

    The structure of food webs, complex networks of interspecies feeding interactions, plays a crucial role in ecosystem resilience and function, and understanding food web structure remains a central problem in ecology. Previous studies have shown that key features of empirical food webs can be reproduced by low-dimensional "niche" models. Here we examine the form and variability of food web niche structure by fitting a probabilistic niche model to 37 empirical food webs, a much larger number of food webs than used in previous studies. The model relaxes previous assumptions about parameter distributions and hierarchy and returns parameter estimates for each species in each web. The model significantly outperforms previous niche model variants and also performs well for several webs where a body-size-based niche model performs poorly, implying that traits other than body size are important in structuring these webs' niche space. Parameter estimates frequently violate previous models' assumptions: in 19 of 37 webs, parameter values are not significantly hierarchical, 32 of 37 webs have nonuniform niche value distributions, and 15 of 37 webs lack a correlation between niche width and niche position. Extending the model to a two-dimensional niche space yields networks with a mixture of one- and two-dimensional niches and provides a significantly better fit for webs with a large number of species and links. These results confirm that food webs are strongly niche-structured but reveal substantial variation in the form of the niche structuring, a result with fundamental implications for ecosystem resilience and function.

  4. Weighting and indirect effects identify keystone species in food webs.

    PubMed

    Zhao, Lei; Zhang, Huayong; O'Gorman, Eoin J; Tian, Wang; Ma, Athen; Moore, John C; Borrett, Stuart R; Woodward, Guy

    2016-09-01

    Species extinctions are accelerating globally, yet the mechanisms that maintain local biodiversity remain poorly understood. The extinction of species that feed on or are fed on by many others (i.e. 'hubs') has traditionally been thought to cause the greatest threat of further biodiversity loss. Very little attention has been paid to the strength of those feeding links (i.e. link weight) and the prevalence of indirect interactions. Here, we used a dynamical model based on empirical energy budget data to assess changes in ecosystem stability after simulating the loss of species according to various extinction scenarios. Link weight and/or indirect effects had stronger effects on food-web stability than the simple removal of 'hubs', demonstrating that both quantitative fluxes and species dissipating their effects across many links should be of great concern in biodiversity conservation, and the potential for 'hubs' to act as keystone species may have been exaggerated to date. PMID:27346328

  5. The Bering Sea—A dynamic food web perspective

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aydin, Kerim; Mueter, Franz

    2007-11-01

    The Bering Sea is a high-latitude, semi-enclosed sea that supports extensive fish, seabird, marine mammal, and invertebrate populations and some of the world's most productive fisheries. The region consists of several distinct biomes that have undergone wide-scale population variation, in part due to fisheries, but also in part due to the effects of interannual and decadal-scale climatic variation. While recent decades of ocean observation have highlighted possible links between climate and species fluctuations, mechanisms linking climate and population fluctuations are only beginning to be understood. Here, we examine the food webs of Bering Sea ecosystems with particular reference to some key shifts in widely distributed, abundant fish populations and their links with climate variation. Both climate variability and fisheries have substantially altered the Bering Sea ecosystem in the past, but their relative importance in shaping the current ecosystem state remains uncertain.

  6. Weighting and indirect effects identify keystone species in food webs.

    PubMed

    Zhao, Lei; Zhang, Huayong; O'Gorman, Eoin J; Tian, Wang; Ma, Athen; Moore, John C; Borrett, Stuart R; Woodward, Guy

    2016-09-01

    Species extinctions are accelerating globally, yet the mechanisms that maintain local biodiversity remain poorly understood. The extinction of species that feed on or are fed on by many others (i.e. 'hubs') has traditionally been thought to cause the greatest threat of further biodiversity loss. Very little attention has been paid to the strength of those feeding links (i.e. link weight) and the prevalence of indirect interactions. Here, we used a dynamical model based on empirical energy budget data to assess changes in ecosystem stability after simulating the loss of species according to various extinction scenarios. Link weight and/or indirect effects had stronger effects on food-web stability than the simple removal of 'hubs', demonstrating that both quantitative fluxes and species dissipating their effects across many links should be of great concern in biodiversity conservation, and the potential for 'hubs' to act as keystone species may have been exaggerated to date.

  7. Food-web constraints on biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships

    PubMed Central

    Thébault, Elisa; Loreau, Michel

    2003-01-01

    The consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services have aroused considerable interest during the past decade. Recent work has focused mainly on the impact of species diversity within single trophic levels, both experimentally and theoretically. Experiments have usually showed increased plant biomass and productivity with increasing plant diversity. Changes in biodiversity, however, may affect ecosystem processes through trophic interactions among species as well. An important current challenge is to understand how these trophic interactions affect the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Here we present a mechanistic model of an ecosystem with multiple trophic levels in which plants compete for a limiting soil nutrient. In contrast to previous studies that focused on single trophic levels, we show that plant biomass does not always increase with plant diversity and that changes in biodiversity can lead to complex if predictable changes in ecosystem processes. Our analysis demonstrates that food-web structure can profoundly influence ecosystem properties. PMID:14638942

  8. Food web architecture and population dynamics in laboratory microcosms of protists.

    PubMed

    Lawler, S P; Morin, P J

    1993-05-01

    In theory, food chain length and omnivory are pivotal elements of food web structure that can affect the population dynamics of species within the web. Long food chains are thought to be less stable than shorter food chains, and omnivores are thought to destabilize food webs, although populations of omnivores may be more stable than populations of nonomnivores. In three of four simple food webs assembled from bacteria and protists in laboratory microcosms, the abundance of bacterivorous protists varied more over time when the species occurred in longer versus shorter food chains. The abundance of protists attacked by omnivorous top predators was either more or less temporally variable than in webs where top predators fed only at one adjacent trophic level, depending on the particular combination of interacting species. The abundance of omnivorous top predators varied less over time than the abundance of top predators restricted to feeding only at an adjacent trophic level. Observations of increased temporal variation in prey abundance in longer food chains and low temporal variation in omnivore abundance agree broadly with several predictions of food web theory. The observation that different species in similar trophic positions can exhibit very different dynamics suggests that stability may depend on complex interactions between species-specific life-history traits and general patterns of food web architecture.

  9. Shifts in the trophic base of intermittent stream food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dekar, Matthew P.; Magoulick, Daniel D.; Huxel, G.R.

    2009-01-01

    Understanding spatial and temporal variation in the trophic base of stream food webs is critical for predicting population and community stability, and ecosystem function. We used stable isotope ratios (13C/12C, and 15N/14N) to characterize the trophic base of two streams in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, U.S.A. We predicted that autochthonous resources would be more important during the spring and summer and allochthonous resources would be more important in the winter due to increased detritus inputs from the riparian zone during autumn leaf drop. We predicted that stream communities would demonstrate increased reliance on autochthonous resources at sites with larger watersheds and greater canopy openness. The study was conducted at three low-order sites in the Mulberry River Drainage (watershed area range: 81-232 km2) seasonally in 2006 and 2007. We used circular statistics to examine community-wide shifts in isotope space among fish and invertebrate consumers in relation to basal resources, including detritus and periphyton. Mixing models were used to quantify the relative contribution of autochthonous and allochthonous energy sources to individual invertebrate consumers. Significant isotopic shifts occurred but results varied by season and site indicating substantial variation in the trophic base of stream food webs. In terms of temporal variation, consumers shifted toward periphyton in the summer during periods of low discharge, but results varied during the interval between summer and winter. Our results did not demonstrate increased reliance on periphyton with increasing watershed area or canopy openness, and detritus was important at all the sites. In our study, riffle-pool geomorphology likely disrupted the expected spatial pattern and stream drying likely impacted the availability and distribution of basal resources.

  10. Marine subsidies have multiple effects on coastal food webs.

    PubMed

    Spiller, David A; Piovia-Scorr, Jonah; Wright, Amber N; Yang, Louie H; Takimoto, Gaku; Schoener, Thomas W; Iwata, Tomoya

    2010-05-01

    The effect of resource subsidies on recipient food webs has received much recent attention. The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of significant seasonal seaweed deposition events, caused by hurricanes and other storms, on species inhabiting subtropical islands. The seaweed represents a pulsed resource subsidy that is consumed by amphipods and flies, which are eaten by lizards and predatory arthropods, which in turn consume terrestrial herbivores. Additionally, seaweed decomposes directly into the soil under plants. We added seaweed to six shoreline plots and removed seaweed from six other plots for three months; all plots were repeatedly monitored for 12 months after the initial manipulation. Lizard density (Anolis sagrei) responded rapidly, and the overall average was 63% higher in subsidized than in removal plots. Stable-isotope analysis revealed a shift in lizard diet composition toward more marine-based prey in subsidized plots. Leaf damage was 70% higher in subsidized than in removal plots after eight months, but subsequent damage was about the same in the two treatments. Foliage growth rate was 70% higher in subsidized plots after 12 months. Results of a complementary study on the relationship between natural variation in marine subsidies and island food web components were consistent with the experimental results. We suggest two causal pathways for the effects of marine subsidies on terrestrial plants: (1) the "fertilization effect" in which seaweed adds nutrients to plants, increasing their growth rate, and (2) the "predator diet shift effect" in which lizards shift from eating local prey (including terrestrial herbivores) to eating mostly marine detritivores.

  11. Emergence of complexity in evolving niche-model food webs.

    PubMed

    Guill, Christian; Drossel, Barbara

    2008-03-01

    We have analysed mechanisms that promote the emergence of complex structures in evolving model food webs. The niche model is used to determine predator-prey relationships. Complexity is measured by species richness as well as trophic level structure and link density. Adaptive dynamics that allow predators to concentrate on the prey species they are best adapted to lead to a strong increase in species number but have only a small effect on the number and relative occupancy of trophic levels. The density of active links also remains small but a high number of potential links allows the network to adjust to changes in the species composition (emergence and extinction of species). Incorporating effects of body size on individual metabolism leads to a more complex trophic level structure: both the maximum and the average trophic level increase. So does the density of active links. Taking body size effects into consideration does not have a measurable influence on species richness. If species are allowed to adjust their foraging behaviour, the complexity of the evolving networks can also be influenced by the size of the external resources. The larger the resources, the larger and more complex is the food web it can sustain. Body size effects and increasing resources do not change size and the simple structure of the evolving networks if adaptive foraging is prohibited. This leads to the conclusion that in the framework of the niche model adaptive foraging is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the emergence of complex networks. It is found that despite the stabilising effect of foraging adaptation the system displays elements of self-organised critical behaviour.

  12. Biological vs. physical mixing effects on benthic food web dynamics.

    PubMed

    Braeckman, Ulrike; Provoost, Pieter; Moens, Tom; Soetaert, Karline; Middelburg, Jack J; Vincx, Magda; Vanaverbeke, Jan

    2011-01-01

    Biological particle mixing (bioturbation) and solute transfer (bio-irrigation) contribute extensively to ecosystem functioning in sediments where physical mixing is low. Macrobenthos transports oxygen and organic matter deeper into the sediment, thereby likely providing favourable niches to lower trophic levels (i.e., smaller benthic animals such as meiofauna and bacteria) and thus stimulating mineralisation. Whether this biological transport facilitates fresh organic matter assimilation by the metazoan lower part of the food web through niche establishment (i.e., ecosystem engineering) or rather deprives them from food sources, is so far unclear. We investigated the effects of the ecosystem engineers Lanice conchilega (bio-irrigator) and Abra alba (bioturbator) compared to abiotic physical mixing events on survival and food uptake of nematodes after a simulated phytoplankton bloom. The (13)C labelled diatom Skeletonema costatum was added to 4 treatments: (1) microcosms containing the bioturbator, (2) microcosms containing the bio-irrigator, (3) control microcosms and (4) microcosms with abiotic manual surface mixing. Nematode survival and subsurface peaks in nematode density profiles were most pronounced in the bio-irrigator treatment. However, nematode specific uptake (Δδ(13)C) of the added diatoms was highest in the physical mixing treatment, where macrobenthos was absent and the diatom (13)C was homogenised. Overall, nematodes fed preferentially on bulk sedimentary organic material rather than the added diatoms. The total C budget (µg C m(-2)), which included TO(13)C remaining in the sediment, respiration, nematode and macrobenthic uptake, highlighted the limited assimilation by the metazoan benthos and the major role of bacterial respiration. In summary, bioturbation and especially bio-irrigation facilitated the lower trophic levels mainly over the long-term through niche establishment. Since the freshly added diatoms represented only a limited food source

  13. Biological vs. physical mixing effects on benthic food web dynamics.

    PubMed

    Braeckman, Ulrike; Provoost, Pieter; Moens, Tom; Soetaert, Karline; Middelburg, Jack J; Vincx, Magda; Vanaverbeke, Jan

    2011-01-01

    Biological particle mixing (bioturbation) and solute transfer (bio-irrigation) contribute extensively to ecosystem functioning in sediments where physical mixing is low. Macrobenthos transports oxygen and organic matter deeper into the sediment, thereby likely providing favourable niches to lower trophic levels (i.e., smaller benthic animals such as meiofauna and bacteria) and thus stimulating mineralisation. Whether this biological transport facilitates fresh organic matter assimilation by the metazoan lower part of the food web through niche establishment (i.e., ecosystem engineering) or rather deprives them from food sources, is so far unclear. We investigated the effects of the ecosystem engineers Lanice conchilega (bio-irrigator) and Abra alba (bioturbator) compared to abiotic physical mixing events on survival and food uptake of nematodes after a simulated phytoplankton bloom. The (13)C labelled diatom Skeletonema costatum was added to 4 treatments: (1) microcosms containing the bioturbator, (2) microcosms containing the bio-irrigator, (3) control microcosms and (4) microcosms with abiotic manual surface mixing. Nematode survival and subsurface peaks in nematode density profiles were most pronounced in the bio-irrigator treatment. However, nematode specific uptake (Δδ(13)C) of the added diatoms was highest in the physical mixing treatment, where macrobenthos was absent and the diatom (13)C was homogenised. Overall, nematodes fed preferentially on bulk sedimentary organic material rather than the added diatoms. The total C budget (µg C m(-2)), which included TO(13)C remaining in the sediment, respiration, nematode and macrobenthic uptake, highlighted the limited assimilation by the metazoan benthos and the major role of bacterial respiration. In summary, bioturbation and especially bio-irrigation facilitated the lower trophic levels mainly over the long-term through niche establishment. Since the freshly added diatoms represented only a limited food source

  14. Biological vs. Physical Mixing Effects on Benthic Food Web Dynamics

    PubMed Central

    Braeckman, Ulrike; Provoost, Pieter; Moens, Tom; Soetaert, Karline; Middelburg, Jack J.; Vincx, Magda; Vanaverbeke, Jan

    2011-01-01

    Biological particle mixing (bioturbation) and solute transfer (bio-irrigation) contribute extensively to ecosystem functioning in sediments where physical mixing is low. Macrobenthos transports oxygen and organic matter deeper into the sediment, thereby likely providing favourable niches to lower trophic levels (i.e., smaller benthic animals such as meiofauna and bacteria) and thus stimulating mineralisation. Whether this biological transport facilitates fresh organic matter assimilation by the metazoan lower part of the food web through niche establishment (i.e., ecosystem engineering) or rather deprives them from food sources, is so far unclear. We investigated the effects of the ecosystem engineers Lanice conchilega (bio-irrigator) and Abra alba (bioturbator) compared to abiotic physical mixing events on survival and food uptake of nematodes after a simulated phytoplankton bloom. The 13C labelled diatom Skeletonema costatum was added to 4 treatments: (1) microcosms containing the bioturbator, (2) microcosms containing the bio-irrigator, (3) control microcosms and (4) microcosms with abiotic manual surface mixing. Nematode survival and subsurface peaks in nematode density profiles were most pronounced in the bio-irrigator treatment. However, nematode specific uptake (Δδ13C) of the added diatoms was highest in the physical mixing treatment, where macrobenthos was absent and the diatom 13C was homogenised. Overall, nematodes fed preferentially on bulk sedimentary organic material rather than the added diatoms. The total C budget (µg C m−2), which included TO13C remaining in the sediment, respiration, nematode and macrobenthic uptake, highlighted the limited assimilation by the metazoan benthos and the major role of bacterial respiration. In summary, bioturbation and especially bio-irrigation facilitated the lower trophic levels mainly over the long-term through niche establishment. Since the freshly added diatoms represented only a limited food source for

  15. Can You Build It? Using Manipulatives to Assess Student Understanding of Food-Web Concepts

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Grumbine, Richard

    2012-01-01

    This article outlines an exercise that assesses student knowledge of food-web and energy-flow concepts. Students work in teams and use manipulatives to build food-web models based on criteria assigned by the instructor. The models are then peer reviewed according to guidelines supplied by the instructor.

  16. Exploring Fish Diversity as a Determinant of Ecosystem Properties in Aquatic Food Webs

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Carey, Michael P.

    2009-01-01

    Dramatic biodiversity changes occurring globally from species loss and invasion have altered native food webs and ecosystem processes. My research objectives are to understand the consequences of fish diversity to freshwater systems by (1) examining the food web consequences of multiple top predators, (2) determining how biodiversity influences…

  17. 40 CFR 230.31 - Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 26 2012-07-01 2011-07-01 true Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other... § 230.31 Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web. (a) Aquatic organisms in the food web include, but are not limited to, finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects,...

  18. 40 CFR 230.31 - Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 26 2013-07-01 2013-07-01 false Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other... § 230.31 Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web. (a) Aquatic organisms in the food web include, but are not limited to, finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects,...

  19. 40 CFR 230.31 - Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 24 2010-07-01 2010-07-01 false Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other... § 230.31 Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web. (a) Aquatic organisms in the food web include, but are not limited to, finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects,...

  20. 40 CFR 230.31 - Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 25 2014-07-01 2014-07-01 false Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other... § 230.31 Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web. (a) Aquatic organisms in the food web include, but are not limited to, finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects,...

  1. 40 CFR 230.31 - Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-07-01

    ... 40 Protection of Environment 25 2011-07-01 2011-07-01 false Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other... § 230.31 Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms in the food web. (a) Aquatic organisms in the food web include, but are not limited to, finfish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects,...

  2. IMPORTANCE OF TEMPERATURE IN MODELLING PCB BIOACCUMULATION IN THE LAKE MICHIGAN FOOD WEB

    EPA Science Inventory

    In most food web models, the exposure temperature of a food web is typically defined using a single spatial compartment. This essentially assumes that the predator and prey are exposed to the same temperature. However, in a large water body such as Lake Michigan, due to the spati...

  3. High-resolution food webs based on nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Food webs are known to have myriad trophic links between resource and consumer species. However, since the difficulties associated with characterizing the trophic position of organisms—particularly omnivores and higher-order consumers—have remained a major problem in food web ecology, our knowledge ...

  4. Benthic versus Planktonic Foundations of Three Lake Superior Coastal Food Webs

    EPA Science Inventory

    The structure of aquatic food webs can provide information on system function, trophic dynamics and, potentially, responses to anthropogenic stressors. Stable isotope analyses in a Lake Superior coastal wetland (Allouez Bay, WI, USA) revealed that the food web was based upon carb...

  5. Comparison of the structure of lower and upper estuary food webs for Yaquina Bay (OR)

    EPA Science Inventory

    Food web models can be used to estimate effects of water quality, habitat distribution or species loss on productivity, carbon flow and ecosystem service production in Pacific NW estuaries. Here we present a comparison of floral and faunal data used to parameterize food web mode...

  6. Developing a broader scientific foundation for river restoration: Columbia River food webs.

    PubMed

    Naiman, Robert J; Alldredge, J Richard; Beauchamp, David A; Bisson, Peter A; Congleton, James; Henny, Charles J; Huntly, Nancy; Lamberson, Roland; Levings, Colin; Merrill, Erik N; Pearcy, William G; Rieman, Bruce E; Ruggerone, Gregory T; Scarnecchia, Dennis; Smouse, Peter E; Wood, Chris C

    2012-12-26

    Well-functioning food webs are fundamental for sustaining rivers as ecosystems and maintaining associated aquatic and terrestrial communities. The current emphasis on restoring habitat structure--without explicitly considering food webs--has been less successful than hoped in terms of enhancing the status of targeted species and often overlooks important constraints on ecologically effective restoration. We identify three priority food web-related issues that potentially impede successful river restoration: uncertainty about habitat carrying capacity, proliferation of chemicals and contaminants, and emergence of hybrid food webs containing a mixture of native and invasive species. Additionally, there is the need to place these food web considerations in a broad temporal and spatial framework by understanding the consequences of altered nutrient, organic matter (energy), water, and thermal sources and flows, reconnecting critical habitats and their food webs, and restoring for changing environments. As an illustration, we discuss how the Columbia River Basin, site of one of the largest aquatic/riparian restoration programs in the United States, would benefit from implementing a food web perspective. A food web perspective for the Columbia River would complement ongoing approaches and enhance the ability to meet the vision and legal obligations of the US Endangered Species Act, the Northwest Power Act (Fish and Wildlife Program), and federal treaties with Northwest Indian Tribes while meeting fundamental needs for improved river management. PMID:23197837

  7. Consistent role of weak and strong interactions in high- and low-diversity trophic food webs.

    PubMed

    Gellner, Gabriel; McCann, Kevin S

    2016-01-01

    The growing realization of a looming biodiversity crisis has inspired considerable progress in the quest to link biodiversity, structure and ecosystem function. Here we construct a method that bridges low- and high-diversity approaches to food web theory by elucidating the connection between the stability of the basic building block of food webs and the mean stability properties of large random food web networks. Applying this theoretical framework to common food web models reveals two key findings. First, in almost all cases, high-diversity food web models yield a stability relationship between weak and strong interactions that are compatible in every way to simple low-diversity models. And second, the models that generate the recently discovered phenomena of being purely stabilized by increasing interaction strength correspond to the biologically implausible assumption of perfect interaction strength symmetry. PMID:27068000

  8. Anthropogenic effects are associated with a lower persistence of marine food webs.

    PubMed

    Gilarranz, Luis J; Mora, Camilo; Bascompte, Jordi

    2016-01-01

    Marine coastal ecosystems are among the most exposed to global environmental change, with reported effects on species biomass, species richness and length of trophic chains. By combining a biologically informed food-web model with information on anthropogenic influences in 701 sites across the Caribbean region, we show that fishing effort, human density and thermal stress anomaly are associated with a decrease in local food-web persistence. The conservation status of the site, in turn, is associated with an increase in food-web persistence. Some of these associations are explained through effects on food-web structure and total community biomass. Our results unveil a hidden footprint of human activities. Even when food webs may seem healthy in terms of the presence and abundance of their constituent species, they may be losing the capacity to withstand further environmental degradation.

  9. Consistent role of weak and strong interactions in high- and low-diversity trophic food webs.

    PubMed

    Gellner, Gabriel; McCann, Kevin S

    2016-01-01

    The growing realization of a looming biodiversity crisis has inspired considerable progress in the quest to link biodiversity, structure and ecosystem function. Here we construct a method that bridges low- and high-diversity approaches to food web theory by elucidating the connection between the stability of the basic building block of food webs and the mean stability properties of large random food web networks. Applying this theoretical framework to common food web models reveals two key findings. First, in almost all cases, high-diversity food web models yield a stability relationship between weak and strong interactions that are compatible in every way to simple low-diversity models. And second, the models that generate the recently discovered phenomena of being purely stabilized by increasing interaction strength correspond to the biologically implausible assumption of perfect interaction strength symmetry.

  10. Consistent role of weak and strong interactions in high- and low-diversity trophic food webs

    PubMed Central

    Gellner, Gabriel; McCann, Kevin S.

    2016-01-01

    The growing realization of a looming biodiversity crisis has inspired considerable progress in the quest to link biodiversity, structure and ecosystem function. Here we construct a method that bridges low- and high-diversity approaches to food web theory by elucidating the connection between the stability of the basic building block of food webs and the mean stability properties of large random food web networks. Applying this theoretical framework to common food web models reveals two key findings. First, in almost all cases, high-diversity food web models yield a stability relationship between weak and strong interactions that are compatible in every way to simple low-diversity models. And second, the models that generate the recently discovered phenomena of being purely stabilized by increasing interaction strength correspond to the biologically implausible assumption of perfect interaction strength symmetry. PMID:27068000

  11. Anthropogenic effects are associated with a lower persistence of marine food webs

    PubMed Central

    Gilarranz, Luis J.; Mora, Camilo; Bascompte, Jordi

    2016-01-01

    Marine coastal ecosystems are among the most exposed to global environmental change, with reported effects on species biomass, species richness and length of trophic chains. By combining a biologically informed food-web model with information on anthropogenic influences in 701 sites across the Caribbean region, we show that fishing effort, human density and thermal stress anomaly are associated with a decrease in local food-web persistence. The conservation status of the site, in turn, is associated with an increase in food-web persistence. Some of these associations are explained through effects on food-web structure and total community biomass. Our results unveil a hidden footprint of human activities. Even when food webs may seem healthy in terms of the presence and abundance of their constituent species, they may be losing the capacity to withstand further environmental degradation. PMID:26867790

  12. Anthropogenic effects are associated with a lower persistence of marine food webs.

    PubMed

    Gilarranz, Luis J; Mora, Camilo; Bascompte, Jordi

    2016-01-01

    Marine coastal ecosystems are among the most exposed to global environmental change, with reported effects on species biomass, species richness and length of trophic chains. By combining a biologically informed food-web model with information on anthropogenic influences in 701 sites across the Caribbean region, we show that fishing effort, human density and thermal stress anomaly are associated with a decrease in local food-web persistence. The conservation status of the site, in turn, is associated with an increase in food-web persistence. Some of these associations are explained through effects on food-web structure and total community biomass. Our results unveil a hidden footprint of human activities. Even when food webs may seem healthy in terms of the presence and abundance of their constituent species, they may be losing the capacity to withstand further environmental degradation. PMID:26867790

  13. Parasites as prey in aquatic food webs: implications for predator infection and parasite transmission

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Thieltges, David W.; Amundsen, Per-Arne; Hechinger, Ryan F.; Johnson, Pieter T.J.; Lafferty, Levin D.; Mouritsen, Kim N.; Preston, Daniel L.; Reise, Karsten; Zander, C. Dieter; Poulin, Robert

    2013-01-01

    While the recent inclusion of parasites into food-web studies has highlighted the role of parasites as consumers, there is accumulating evidence that parasites can also serve as prey for predators. Here we investigated empirical patterns of predation on parasites and their relationships with parasite transmission in eight topological food webs representing marine and freshwater ecosystems. Within each food web, we examined links in the typical predator–prey sub web as well as the predator–parasite sub web, i.e. the quadrant of the food web indicating which predators eat parasites. Most predator– parasite links represented ‘concomitant predation’ (consumption and death of a parasite along with the prey/host; 58–72%), followed by ‘trophic transmission’ (predator feeds on infected prey and becomes infected; 8–32%) and predation on free-living parasite life-cycle stages (4–30%). Parasite life-cycle stages had, on average, between 4.2 and 14.2 predators. Among the food webs, as predator richness increased, the number of links exploited by trophically transmitted parasites increased at about the same rate as did the number of links where these stages serve as prey. On the whole, our analyses suggest that predation on parasites has important consequences for both predators and parasites, and food web structure. Because our analysis is solely based on topological webs, determining the strength of these interactions is a promising avenue for future research.

  14. The use of DNA barcodes in food web construction-terrestrial and aquatic ecologists unite!

    PubMed

    Roslin, Tomas; Majaneva, Sanna

    2016-09-01

    By depicting who eats whom, food webs offer descriptions of how groupings in nature (typically species or populations) are linked to each other. For asking questions on how food webs are built and work, we need descriptions of food webs at different levels of resolution. DNA techniques provide opportunities for highly resolved webs. In this paper, we offer an exposé of how DNA-based techniques, and DNA barcodes in particular, have recently been used to construct food web structure in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. We highlight how such techniques can be applied to simultaneously improve the taxonomic resolution of the nodes of the web (i.e., the species), and the links between them (i.e., who eats whom). We end by proposing how DNA barcodes and DNA information may allow new approaches to the construction of larger interaction webs, and overcome some hurdles to achieving adequate sample size. Most importantly, we propose that the joint adoption and development of these techniques may serve to unite approaches to food web studies in aquatic and terrestrial systems-revealing the extent to which food webs in these environments are structured similarly to or differently from each other, and how they are linked by dispersal.

  15. The use of DNA barcodes in food web construction-terrestrial and aquatic ecologists unite!

    PubMed

    Roslin, Tomas; Majaneva, Sanna

    2016-09-01

    By depicting who eats whom, food webs offer descriptions of how groupings in nature (typically species or populations) are linked to each other. For asking questions on how food webs are built and work, we need descriptions of food webs at different levels of resolution. DNA techniques provide opportunities for highly resolved webs. In this paper, we offer an exposé of how DNA-based techniques, and DNA barcodes in particular, have recently been used to construct food web structure in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. We highlight how such techniques can be applied to simultaneously improve the taxonomic resolution of the nodes of the web (i.e., the species), and the links between them (i.e., who eats whom). We end by proposing how DNA barcodes and DNA information may allow new approaches to the construction of larger interaction webs, and overcome some hurdles to achieving adequate sample size. Most importantly, we propose that the joint adoption and development of these techniques may serve to unite approaches to food web studies in aquatic and terrestrial systems-revealing the extent to which food webs in these environments are structured similarly to or differently from each other, and how they are linked by dispersal. PMID:27484156

  16. Food Web Architecture and Basal Resources Interact to Determine Biomass and Stoichiometric Cascades along a Benthic Food Web

    PubMed Central

    Guariento, Rafael D.; Carneiro, Luciana S.; Caliman, Adriano; Leal, João J. F.; Bozelli, Reinaldo L.; Esteves, Francisco A.

    2011-01-01

    Understanding the effects of predators and resources on primary producers has been a major focus of interest in ecology. Within this context, the trophic cascade concept especially concerning the pelagic zone of lakes has been the focus of the majority of these studies. However, littoral food webs could be especially interesting because base trophic levels may be strongly regulated by consumers and prone to be light limited. In this study, the availability of nutrients and light and the presence of an omnivorous fish (Hyphessobrycon bifasciatus) were manipulated in enclosures placed in a humic coastal lagoon (Cabiúnas Lagoon, Macaé – RJ) to evaluate the individual and interactive effects of resource availability (nutrients and light) and food web configuration on the biomass and stoichiometry of periphyton and benthic grazers. Our findings suggest that light and nutrients interact to determine periphyton biomass and stoichiometry, which propagates to the consumer level. We observed a positive effect of the availability of nutrients on periphytic biomass and grazers' biomass, as well as a reduction of periphytic C∶N∶P ratios and an increase of grazers' N and P content. Low light availability constrained the propagation of nutrient effects on periphyton biomass and induced higher periphytic C∶N∶P ratios. The effects of fish presence strongly interacted with resource availability. In general, a positive effect of fish presence was observed for the total biomass of periphyton and grazer's biomass, especially with high resource availability, but the opposite was found for periphytic autotrophic biomass. Fish also had a significant effect on periphyton stoichiometry, but no effect was observed on grazers' stoichiometric ratios. In summary, we observed that the indirect effect of fish predation on periphyton biomass might be dependent on multiple resources and periphyton nutrient stoichiometric variation can affect consumers' stoichiometry. PMID:21789234

  17. Foraging adaptation and the relationship between food-web complexity and stability.

    PubMed

    Kondoh, Michio

    2003-02-28

    Ecological theory suggests that complex food webs should not persist because of their inherent instability. "Real" ecosystems often support a large number of interacting species. A mathematical model shows that fluctuating short-term selection on trophic links, arising from a consumer's adaptive food choice, is a key to the long-term stability of complex communities. Without adaptive foragers, food-web complexity destabilizes community composition; whereas in their presence, complexity may enhance community persistence through facilitation of dynamical food-web reconstruction that buffers environmental fluctuations. The model predicts a linkage pattern consistent with field observations.

  18. Adult antarctic krill feeding at abyssal depths.

    PubMed

    Clarke, Andrew; Tyler, Paul A

    2008-02-26

    Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a large euphausiid, widely distributed within the Southern Ocean [1], and a key species in the Antarctic food web [2]. The Discovery Investigations in the early 20(th) century, coupled with subsequent work with both nets and echosounders, indicated that the bulk of the population of postlarval krill is typically confined to the top 150 m of the water column [1, 3, 4]. Here, we report for the first time the existence of significant numbers of Antarctic krill feeding actively at abyssal depths in the Southern Ocean. Biological observations from the deep-water remotely operated vehicle Isis in the austral summer of 2006/07 have revealed the presence of adult krill (Euphausia superba Dana), including gravid females, at unprecedented depths in Marguerite Bay, western Antarctic Peninsula. Adult krill were found close to the seabed at all depths but were absent from fjords close inshore. At all locations where krill were detected they were seen to be actively feeding, and at many locations there were exuviae (cast molts). These observations revise significantly our understanding of the depth distribution and ecology of Antarctic krill, a central organism in the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

  19. Watershed and Lake Influences on the Energetic Base of Coastal Wetland Food Webs across the Great Lakes Basin

    EPA Science Inventory

    This manuscript examines the responses of Great Lakes coastal wetland food webs to nutrient enrichment and identifies three classes of systems whose food webs respond differently. Or is that differentially? Anyway, coastal wetlands with relatively long hydraulic residence times ...

  20. Developing a broader scientific foundation for river restoration: Columbia River food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Naiman, Robert J.; Alldredge, Richard; Beauchamp, David A.; Bisson, Peter A.; Congleton, James; Henny, Charles J.; Huntly, Nancy; Lamberson, Roland; Levings, Colin; Merrill, Erik N.; Pearcy, William G.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Ruggerone, Gregory T.; Scarnecchia, Dennis; Smouse, Peter E.; Wood, Chris C.

    2012-01-01

    Well-functioning food webs are fundamental for sustaining rivers as ecosystems and maintaining associated aquatic and terrestrial communities. The current emphasis on restoring habitat structure—without explicitly considering food webs—has been less successful than hoped in terms of enhancing the status of targeted species and often overlooks important constraints on ecologically effective restoration. We identify three priority food web-related issues that potentially impede successful river restoration: uncertainty about habitat carrying capacity, proliferation of chemicals and contaminants, and emergence of hybrid food webs containing a mixture of native and invasive species. Additionally, there is the need to place these food web considerations in a broad temporal and spatial framework by understanding the consequences of altered nutrient, organic matter (energy), water, and thermal sources and flows, reconnecting critical habitats and their food webs, and restoring for changing environments. As an illustration, we discuss how the Columbia River Basin, site of one of the largest aquatic/riparian restoration programs in the United States, would benefit from implementing a food web perspective. A food web perspective for the Columbia River would complement ongoing approaches and enhance the ability to meet the vision and legal obligations of the US Endangered Species Act, the Northwest Power Act (Fish and Wildlife Program), and federal treaties with Northwest Indian Tribes while meeting fundamental needs for improved river management.

  1. Multiple sources of isotopic variation in a terrestrial arthropod community: challenges for disentangling food webs.

    PubMed

    Daugherty, Matthew P; Briggs, Cheryl J

    2007-08-01

    Documenting trophic links in a food web has traditionally required complex exclusion experiments coupled with extraordinarily labor-intensive direct observations of predator foraging. Newer techniques such as stable isotope analysis (SIA) may facilitate relatively quick and accurate assessments of consumer feeding behavior. Ratios of N and C isotopes are thought to be useful for determining species' trophic position (e.g., 1 degrees consumer, 2 degrees consumer, or omnivore) and their original carbon source (e.g., C3 or C4 plants; terrestrial or marine nutrients). Thus far, however, applications of stable isotopes to terrestrial arthropod food webs have suggested that high taxon-specific variation may undermine the effectiveness of this method. We applied stable isotope analysis to a pear orchard food web, in which biological control of a dominant pest, pear psylla (Cacopsylla pyricola), involves primarily generalist arthropod predators with a high frequency of omnivory. We found multiple sources of isotopic variation in this food web, including differences among plant tissues; time, stage, and taxon-specific differences among herbivores (despite similar feeding modes); and high taxon-specific variation among predators (with no clear evidence of omnivory). Collectively, these multiple sources of isotopic variation blur our view of the structure of this food web. Idiosyncrasies in consumer trophic shifts make ad hoc application of SIA to even moderately complex food webs intractable. SIA may not be a generally applicable "quick and dirty" method for delineating terrestrial food web structure-not without calibration of specific consumer food trophic shifts.

  2. Developing a broader scientific foundation for river restoration: Columbia River food webs

    PubMed Central

    Naiman, Robert J.; Alldredge, J. Richard; Beauchamp, David A.; Bisson, Peter A.; Congleton, James; Henny, Charles J.; Huntly, Nancy; Lamberson, Roland; Levings, Colin; Merrill, Erik N.; Pearcy, William G.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Ruggerone, Gregory T.; Scarnecchia, Dennis; Smouse, Peter E.; Wood, Chris C.

    2012-01-01

    Well-functioning food webs are fundamental for sustaining rivers as ecosystems and maintaining associated aquatic and terrestrial communities. The current emphasis on restoring habitat structure—without explicitly considering food webs—has been less successful than hoped in terms of enhancing the status of targeted species and often overlooks important constraints on ecologically effective restoration. We identify three priority food web-related issues that potentially impede successful river restoration: uncertainty about habitat carrying capacity, proliferation of chemicals and contaminants, and emergence of hybrid food webs containing a mixture of native and invasive species. Additionally, there is the need to place these food web considerations in a broad temporal and spatial framework by understanding the consequences of altered nutrient, organic matter (energy), water, and thermal sources and flows, reconnecting critical habitats and their food webs, and restoring for changing environments. As an illustration, we discuss how the Columbia River Basin, site of one of the largest aquatic/riparian restoration programs in the United States, would benefit from implementing a food web perspective. A food web perspective for the Columbia River would complement ongoing approaches and enhance the ability to meet the vision and legal obligations of the US Endangered Species Act, the Northwest Power Act (Fish and Wildlife Program), and federal treaties with Northwest Indian Tribes while meeting fundamental needs for improved river management. PMID:23197837

  3. Trophic levels and trophic tangles: the prevalence of omnivory in real food webs.

    PubMed

    Thompson, Ross M; Hemberg, Martin; Starzomski, Brian M; Shurin, Jonathan B

    2007-03-01

    The concept of trophic levels is one of the oldest in ecology and informs our understanding of energy flow and top-down control within food webs, but it has been criticized for ignoring omnivory. We tested whether trophic levels were apparent in 58 real food webs in four habitat types by examining patterns of trophic position. A large proportion of taxa (64.4%) occupied integer trophic positions, suggesting that discrete trophic levels do exist. Importantly however, the majority of those trophic positions were aggregated around integer values of 0 and 1, representing plants and herbivores. For the majority of the real food webs considered here, secondary consumers were no more likely to occupy an integer trophic position than in randomized food webs. This means that, above the herbivore trophic level, food webs are better characterized as a tangled web of omnivores. Omnivory was most common in marine systems, rarest in streams, and intermediate in lakes and terrestrial food webs. Trophic-level-based concepts such as trophic cascades may apply to systems with short food chains, but they become less valid as food chains lengthen.

  4. Fluorinated organic compounds in an eastern Arctic marine food web.

    PubMed

    Tomy, Gregg T; Budakowski, Wes; Halldorson, Thor; Helm, Paul A; Stern, Gary A; Friesen, Ken; Pepper, Karen; Tittlemier, Sheryl A; Fisk, Aaron T

    2004-12-15

    An eastern Arctic marine food web was analyzed for perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS, C8F17SO3-), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA, C7F15COO-), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA, C8F17SO2NH2), and N-ethylperfluorooctane sulfonamide (N-EtPFOSA, C8F17SO2NHCH2CH3) to examine the extent of bioaccumulation. PFOS was detected in all species analyzed, and mean concentrations ranged from 0.28 +/- 0.09 ng/g (arithmetic mean +/- 1 standard error, wet wt, whole body) in clams (Mya truncata) to 20.2 +/- 3.9 ng/g (wet wt, liver) in glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus). PFOA was detected in approximately 40% of the samples analyzed at concentrations generally smaller than those found for PFOS; the greatest concentrations were observed in zooplankton (2.6 +/- 0.3 ng/g, wet wt). N-EtPFOSA was detected in all species except redfish with mean concentrations ranging from 0.39 +/- 0.07 ng/g (wet wt) in mixed zooplankton to 92.8 +/- 41.9 ng/g (wet wt) in Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida). This is the first report of N-EtPFOSA in Arctic biota. PFOSA was only detected in livers of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) (20.9 +/- 7.9 ng/g, wet wt) and narwhal (Monodon monoceros) (6.2 +/- 2.3 ng/g, wet wt), suggesting that N-EtPFOSA and other PFOSA-type precursors are likely present but are being biotransformed to PFOSA. A positive linear relationship was found between PFOS concentrations (wet wt) and trophic level (TL), based on delta15N values, (r2 = 0.51, p < 0.0001) resulting in a trophic magnification factor of 3.1. TL-corrected biomagnification factor estimates for PFOS ranged from 0.4 to 9. Both results indicate that PFOS biomagnifies in the Arctic marine food web when liver concentrations of PFOS are used for seabirds and marine mammals. However, transformation of N-EtPFOSA and PFOSA and potential other perfluorinated compounds to PFOS may contribute to PFOS levels in marine mammals and may inflate estimated biomagnification values. None of the other fluorinated compounds (N-EtPFOSA, PFOSA, and PFOA) were

  5. Food webs: ordering species according to body size yields high degree of intervality.

    PubMed

    Zook, Alexander E; Eklof, Anna; Jacob, Ute; Allesina, Stefano

    2011-02-21

    Food webs, the networks describing "who eats whom" in an ecosystem, are nearly interval, i.e. there is a way to order the species so that almost all the resources of each consumer are adjacent in the ordering. This feature has important consequences, as it means that the structure of food webs can be described using a single (or few) species' traits. Moreover, exploiting the quasi-intervality found in empirical webs can help build better models for food web structure. Here we investigate which species trait is a good proxy for ordering the species to produce quasi-interval orderings. We find that body size produces a significant degree of intervality in almost all food webs analyzed, although it does not match the maximum intervality for the networks. There is also a great variability between webs. Other orderings based on trophic levels produce a lower level of intervality. Finally, we extend the concept of intervality from predator-centered (in which resources are in intervals) to prey-centered (in which consumers are in intervals). In this case as well we find that body size yields a significant, but not maximal, level of intervality. These results show that body size is an important, although not perfect, trait that shapes species interactions in food webs. This has important implications for the formulation of simple models used to construct realistic representations of food webs.

  6. Perfluorinated compounds in the Antarctic region: ocean circulation provides prolonged protection from distant sources.

    PubMed

    Bengtson Nash, Susan; Rintoul, Stephen R; Kawaguchi, So; Staniland, Iain; van den Hoff, John; Tierney, Megan; Bossi, Rossana

    2010-09-01

    In order to investigate the extent to which Perfluorinated Contaminants (PFCs) have permeated the Southern Ocean food web to date, a range of Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and Antarctic-migratory biota were analysed for key ionic PFCs. Based upon the geographical distribution pattern and ecology of biota with detectable vs. non-detectable PFC burdens, an evaluation of the potential contributory roles of alternative system input pathways is made. Our analytical findings, together with previous reports, reveal only the occasional occurrence of PFCs in migratory biota and vertebrate predators with foraging ranges extending into or north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Geographical contamination patterns observed correspond most strongly with those expected from delivery via hydrospheric transport as governed by the unique oceanographic features of the Southern Ocean. We suggest that hydrospheric transport will form a slow, but primary, input pathway of PFCs to the Antarctic region.

  7. Trophic groups and modules: two levels of group detection in food webs.

    PubMed

    Gauzens, Benoit; Thébault, Elisa; Lacroix, Gérard; Legendre, Stéphane

    2015-05-01

    Within food webs, species can be partitioned into groups according to various criteria. Two notions have received particular attention: trophic groups (TGs), which have been used for decades in the ecological literature, and more recently, modules. The relationship between these two group concepts remains unknown in empirical food webs. While recent developments in network theory have led to efficient methods for detecting modules in food webs, the determination of TGs (groups of species that are functionally similar) is largely based on subjective expert knowledge. We develop a novel algorithm for TG detection. We apply this method to empirical food webs and show that aggregation into TGs allows for the simplification of food webs while preserving their information content. Furthermore, we reveal a two-level hierarchical structure where modules partition food webs into large bottom-top trophic pathways, whereas TGs further partition these pathways into groups of species with similar trophic connections. This provides new perspectives for the study of dynamical and functional consequences of food-web structure, bridging topological and dynamical analysis. TGs have a clear ecological meaning and are found to provide a trade-off between network complexity and information loss.

  8. Trophic transfer of contaminants in a changing arctic marine food web: Cumberland Sound, Nunavut, Canada.

    PubMed

    McKinney, Melissa A; McMeans, Bailey C; Tomy, Gregg T; Rosenberg, Bruno; Ferguson, Steven H; Morris, Adam; Muir, Derek C G; Fisk, Aaron T

    2012-09-18

    Contaminant dynamics in arctic marine food webs may be impacted by current climate-induced food web changes including increases in transient/subarctic species. We quantified food web organochlorine transfer in the Cumberland Sound (Nunavut, Canada) arctic marine food web in the presence of transient species using species-specific biomagnification factors (BMFs), trophic magnification factors (TMFs), and a multifactor model that included δ(15)N-derived trophic position and species habitat range (transient versus resident), and also considered δ(13)C-derived carbon source, thermoregulatory group, and season. Transient/subarctic species relative to residents had higher prey-to-predator BMFs of biomagnifying contaminants (1.4 to 62 for harp seal, Greenland shark, and narwhal versus 1.1 to 20 for ringed seal, arctic skate, and beluga whale, respectively). For contaminants that biomagnified in a transient-and-resident food web and a resident-only food web scenario, TMFs were higher in the former (2.3 to 10.1) versus the latter (1.7 to 4.0). Transient/subarctic species have higher tissue contaminant levels and greater BMFs likely due to higher energetic requirements associated with long-distance movements or consumption of more contaminated prey in regions outside of Cumberland Sound. These results demonstrate that, in addition to climate change-related long-range transport/deposition/revolatilization changes, increasing numbers of transient/subarctic animals may alter food web contaminant dynamics. PMID:22957980

  9. Hydrology and grazing jointly control a large-river food web.

    PubMed

    Strayer, David L; Pace, Michael L; Caraco, Nina F; Cole, Jonathan J; Findlay, Stuart E G

    2008-01-01

    Inputs of fresh water and grazing both can control aquatic food webs, but little is known about the relative strengths of and interactions between these controls. We use long-term data on the food web of the freshwater Hudson River estuary to investigate the importance of, and interactions between, inputs of fresh water and grazing by the invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha). Both freshwater inputs and zebra mussel grazing have strong, pervasive effects on the Hudson River food web. High flow tended to reduce population size in most parts of the food web. High grazing also reduced populations in the planktonic food web, but increased populations in the littoral food web, probably as a result of increases in water clarity. The influences of flow and zebra mussel grazing were roughly equal (i.e., within a factor of 2) for many variables over the period of our study. Zebra mussel grazing made phytoplankton less sensitive to freshwater inputs, but water clarity and the littoral food web more sensitive to freshwater inputs, showing that interactions between these two controlling factors can be strong and varied.

  10. Trophic groups and modules: two levels of group detection in food webs

    PubMed Central

    Gauzens, Benoit; Thébault, Elisa; Lacroix, Gérard; Legendre, Stéphane

    2015-01-01

    Within food webs, species can be partitioned into groups according to various criteria. Two notions have received particular attention: trophic groups (TGs), which have been used for decades in the ecological literature, and more recently, modules. The relationship between these two group concepts remains unknown in empirical food webs. While recent developments in network theory have led to efficient methods for detecting modules in food webs, the determination of TGs (groups of species that are functionally similar) is largely based on subjective expert knowledge. We develop a novel algorithm for TG detection. We apply this method to empirical food webs and show that aggregation into TGs allows for the simplification of food webs while preserving their information content. Furthermore, we reveal a two-level hierarchical structure where modules partition food webs into large bottom–top trophic pathways, whereas TGs further partition these pathways into groups of species with similar trophic connections. This provides new perspectives for the study of dynamical and functional consequences of food-web structure, bridging topological and dynamical analysis. TGs have a clear ecological meaning and are found to provide a trade-off between network complexity and information loss. PMID:25878127

  11. Trophic transfer of contaminants in a changing arctic marine food web: Cumberland Sound, Nunavut, Canada.

    PubMed

    McKinney, Melissa A; McMeans, Bailey C; Tomy, Gregg T; Rosenberg, Bruno; Ferguson, Steven H; Morris, Adam; Muir, Derek C G; Fisk, Aaron T

    2012-09-18

    Contaminant dynamics in arctic marine food webs may be impacted by current climate-induced food web changes including increases in transient/subarctic species. We quantified food web organochlorine transfer in the Cumberland Sound (Nunavut, Canada) arctic marine food web in the presence of transient species using species-specific biomagnification factors (BMFs), trophic magnification factors (TMFs), and a multifactor model that included δ(15)N-derived trophic position and species habitat range (transient versus resident), and also considered δ(13)C-derived carbon source, thermoregulatory group, and season. Transient/subarctic species relative to residents had higher prey-to-predator BMFs of biomagnifying contaminants (1.4 to 62 for harp seal, Greenland shark, and narwhal versus 1.1 to 20 for ringed seal, arctic skate, and beluga whale, respectively). For contaminants that biomagnified in a transient-and-resident food web and a resident-only food web scenario, TMFs were higher in the former (2.3 to 10.1) versus the latter (1.7 to 4.0). Transient/subarctic species have higher tissue contaminant levels and greater BMFs likely due to higher energetic requirements associated with long-distance movements or consumption of more contaminated prey in regions outside of Cumberland Sound. These results demonstrate that, in addition to climate change-related long-range transport/deposition/revolatilization changes, increasing numbers of transient/subarctic animals may alter food web contaminant dynamics.

  12. Mercury in the Pelagic Food Web of Lake Champlain

    PubMed Central

    Chen, Celia; Kamman, Neil; Shanley, James; Chalmers, Ann; Jackson, Brian; Taylor, Vivien; Smeltzer, Eric; Stangel, Pete; Shambaugh, Angela

    2013-01-01

    Lake Champlain continues to experience mercury contamination resulting in public advisories to limit human consumption of top trophic level fish such as walleye. Prior research suggested that mercury levels in biota could be modified by differences in ecosystem productivity as well as mercury loadings. We investigated relationships between mercury in different trophic levels in Lake Champlain. We measured inorganic and methyl mercury in water, seston, and two size fractions of zooplankton from 13 sites representing a range of nutrient loading conditions and productivity. Biomass varied significantly across lake segments in all measured ecosystem compartments in response to significant differences in nutrient levels. Local environmental factors such as alkalinity influenced the partitioning of mercury between water and seston. Mercury incorporation into biota was influenced by the biomass and mercury content of different ecosystem strata. Pelagic fish tissue mercury was a function of fish length and the size of the mercury pool associated with large zooplankton. We used these observations to parameterize a model of mercury transfers in the Lake Champlain food web that accounts for ecosystem productivity effects. Simulations using the mercury trophic transfer model suggest that reductions of 25 to 75% in summertime dissolved eplimnetic total mercury will likely allow fish tissue mercury concentrations to drop to the target level of 0.3 µg g−1 in a 40-cm fish in all lake segments. Changes in nutrient loading and ecosystem productivity in eutrophic segments may delay any response to reduced dissolved mercury and may result in increases in fish tissue mercury. PMID:22193540

  13. Mercury in the pelagic food web of Lake Champlain.

    PubMed

    Miller, Eric K; Chen, Celia; Kamman, Neil; Shanley, James; Chalmers, Ann; Jackson, Brian; Taylor, Vivien; Smeltzer, Eric; Stangel, Pete; Shambaugh, Angela

    2012-04-01

    Lake Champlain continues to experience mercury contamination resulting in public advisories to limit human consumption of top trophic level fish such as walleye. Prior research suggested that mercury levels in biota could be modified by differences in ecosystem productivity as well as mercury loadings. We investigated relationships between mercury in different trophic levels in Lake Champlain. We measured inorganic and methyl mercury in water, seston, and two size fractions of zooplankton from 13 sites representing a range of nutrient loading conditions and productivity. Biomass varied significantly across lake segments in all measured ecosystem compartments in response to significant differences in nutrient levels. Local environmental factors such as alkalinity influenced the partitioning of mercury between water and seston. Mercury incorporation into biota was influenced by the biomass and mercury content of different ecosystem strata. Pelagic fish tissue mercury was a function of fish length and the size of the mercury pool associated with large zooplankton. We used these observations to parameterize a model of mercury transfers in the Lake Champlain food web that accounts for ecosystem productivity effects. Simulations using the mercury trophic transfer model suggest that reductions of 25-75% in summertime dissolved eplimnetic total mercury will likely allow fish tissue mercury concentrations to drop to the target level of 0.3 μg g(-1) in a 40-cm fish in all lake segments. Changes in nutrient loading and ecosystem productivity in eutrophic segments may delay any response to reduced dissolved mercury and may result in increases in fish tissue mercury.

  14. Dispersed oil disrupts microbial pathways in pelagic food webs.

    PubMed

    Ortmann, Alice C; Anders, Jennifer; Shelton, Naomi; Gong, Limin; Moss, Anthony G; Condon, Robert H

    2012-01-01

    Most of the studies of microbial processes in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill focused on the deep water plume, and not on the surface communities. The effects of the crude oil and the application of dispersants on the coastal microbial food web in the northern Gulf of Mexico have not been well characterized even though these regions support much of the fisheries production in the Gulf. A mesocosm experiment was carried out to determine how the microbial community off the coast of Alabama may have responded to the influx of surface oil and dispersants. While the addition of glucose or oil alone resulted in an increase in the biomass of ciliates, suggesting transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels was likely; a different effect was seen in the presence of dispersant. The addition of dispersant or dispersed oil resulted in an increase in the biomass of heterotrophic prokaryotes, but a significant inhibition of ciliates, suggesting a reduction in grazing and decrease in transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels. Similar patterns were observed in two separate experiments with different starting nutrient regimes and microbial communities suggesting that the addition of dispersant and dispersed oil to the northern Gulf of Mexico waters in 2010 may have reduced the flow of carbon to higher trophic levels, leading to a decrease in the production of zooplankton and fish on the Alabama shelf. PMID:22860136

  15. Animal diversity and ecosystem functioning in dynamic food webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schneider, Florian D.; Brose, Ulrich; Rall, Björn C.; Guill, Christian

    2016-10-01

    Species diversity is changing globally and locally, but the complexity of ecological communities hampers a general understanding of the consequences of animal species loss on ecosystem functioning. High animal diversity increases complementarity of herbivores but also increases feeding rates within the consumer guild. Depending on the balance of these counteracting mechanisms, species-rich animal communities may put plants under top-down control or may release them from grazing pressure. Using a dynamic food-web model with body-mass constraints, we simulate ecosystem functions of 20,000 communities of varying animal diversity. We show that diverse animal communities accumulate more biomass and are more exploitative on plants, despite their higher rates of intra-guild predation. However, they do not reduce plant biomass because the communities are composed of larger, and thus energetically more efficient, plant and animal species. This plasticity of community body-size structure reconciles the debate on the consequences of animal species loss for primary productivity.

  16. Animal diversity and ecosystem functioning in dynamic food webs

    PubMed Central

    Schneider, Florian D.; Brose, Ulrich; Rall, Björn C.; Guill, Christian

    2016-01-01

    Species diversity is changing globally and locally, but the complexity of ecological communities hampers a general understanding of the consequences of animal species loss on ecosystem functioning. High animal diversity increases complementarity of herbivores but also increases feeding rates within the consumer guild. Depending on the balance of these counteracting mechanisms, species-rich animal communities may put plants under top-down control or may release them from grazing pressure. Using a dynamic food-web model with body-mass constraints, we simulate ecosystem functions of 20,000 communities of varying animal diversity. We show that diverse animal communities accumulate more biomass and are more exploitative on plants, despite their higher rates of intra-guild predation. However, they do not reduce plant biomass because the communities are composed of larger, and thus energetically more efficient, plant and animal species. This plasticity of community body-size structure reconciles the debate on the consequences of animal species loss for primary productivity. PMID:27703157

  17. Dispersed oil disrupts microbial pathways in pelagic food webs.

    PubMed

    Ortmann, Alice C; Anders, Jennifer; Shelton, Naomi; Gong, Limin; Moss, Anthony G; Condon, Robert H

    2012-01-01

    Most of the studies of microbial processes in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill focused on the deep water plume, and not on the surface communities. The effects of the crude oil and the application of dispersants on the coastal microbial food web in the northern Gulf of Mexico have not been well characterized even though these regions support much of the fisheries production in the Gulf. A mesocosm experiment was carried out to determine how the microbial community off the coast of Alabama may have responded to the influx of surface oil and dispersants. While the addition of glucose or oil alone resulted in an increase in the biomass of ciliates, suggesting transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels was likely; a different effect was seen in the presence of dispersant. The addition of dispersant or dispersed oil resulted in an increase in the biomass of heterotrophic prokaryotes, but a significant inhibition of ciliates, suggesting a reduction in grazing and decrease in transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels. Similar patterns were observed in two separate experiments with different starting nutrient regimes and microbial communities suggesting that the addition of dispersant and dispersed oil to the northern Gulf of Mexico waters in 2010 may have reduced the flow of carbon to higher trophic levels, leading to a decrease in the production of zooplankton and fish on the Alabama shelf.

  18. Dispersed Oil Disrupts Microbial Pathways in Pelagic Food Webs

    PubMed Central

    Ortmann, Alice C.; Anders, Jennifer; Shelton, Naomi; Gong, Limin; Moss, Anthony G.; Condon, Robert H.

    2012-01-01

    Most of the studies of microbial processes in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill focused on the deep water plume, and not on the surface communities. The effects of the crude oil and the application of dispersants on the coastal microbial food web in the northern Gulf of Mexico have not been well characterized even though these regions support much of the fisheries production in the Gulf. A mesocosm experiment was carried out to determine how the microbial community off the coast of Alabama may have responded to the influx of surface oil and dispersants. While the addition of glucose or oil alone resulted in an increase in the biomass of ciliates, suggesting transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels was likely; a different effect was seen in the presence of dispersant. The addition of dispersant or dispersed oil resulted in an increase in the biomass of heterotrophic prokaryotes, but a significant inhibition of ciliates, suggesting a reduction in grazing and decrease in transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels. Similar patterns were observed in two separate experiments with different starting nutrient regimes and microbial communities suggesting that the addition of dispersant and dispersed oil to the northern Gulf of Mexico waters in 2010 may have reduced the flow of carbon to higher trophic levels, leading to a decrease in the production of zooplankton and fish on the Alabama shelf. PMID:22860136

  19. Transfer of heavy metals through terrestrial food webs: a review.

    PubMed

    Gall, Jillian E; Boyd, Robert S; Rajakaruna, Nishanta

    2015-04-01

    Heavy metals are released into the environment by both anthropogenic and natural sources. Highly reactive and often toxic at low concentrations, they may enter soils and groundwater, bioaccumulate in food webs, and adversely affect biota. Heavy metals also may remain in the environment for years, posing long-term risks to life well after point sources of heavy metal pollution have been removed. In this review, we compile studies of the community-level effects of heavy metal pollution, including heavy metal transfer from soils to plants, microbes, invertebrates, and to both small and large mammals (including humans). Many factors contribute to heavy metal accumulation in animals including behavior, physiology, and diet. Biotic effects of heavy metals are often quite different for essential and non-essential heavy metals, and vary depending on the specific metal involved. They also differ for adapted organisms, including metallophyte plants and heavy metal-tolerant insects, which occur in naturally high-metal habitats (such as serpentine soils) and have adaptations that allow them to tolerate exposure to relatively high concentrations of some heavy metals. Some metallophyte plants are hyperaccumulators of certain heavy metals and new technologies using them to clean metal-contaminated soil (phytoextraction) may offer economically attractive solutions to some metal pollution challenges. These new technologies provide incentive to catalog and protect the unique biodiversity of habitats that have naturally high levels of heavy metals.

  20. Food webs in relation to variation in the environment and species assemblage: a multivariate approach.

    PubMed

    Schriever, Tiffany A

    2015-01-01

    The abiotic environment has strong influences on the growth, survival, behavior, and ecology of aquatic organisms. Biotic interactions and species life histories interact with abiotic factors to structure the food web. One measure of food-web structure is food-chain length. Several hypotheses predict a linear relationship between one environmental variable (e.g., disturbance or ecosystem size) and food-chain length. However, many abiotic and biotic variables interact in diverse ways to structure a community, and may affect other measures of food web structure besides food-chain length. This study took a multivariate approach to test the influence of several important environmental variables on four food-web characteristics measured in nine ponds along a hydroperiod gradient over two years. This approach allowed for testing the ecosystem size and dynamic constraints hypotheses while in context of other possibly interacting environmental variables. The relationship between amphibian and invertebrate communities and pond habitat variables was assessed to understand the underlying food-web structure. Hydroperiod and pond area had a strong influence on amphibian and invertebrate communities, trophic diversity and δ15N range. The range in δ13C values responded strongly to dissolved oxygen. Food-chain length responded to multiple environmental variables. Invertebrate and amphibian communities were structured by pond hydroperiod which in turn influenced the trophic diversity of the food web. The results of this study suggest food-chain length is influenced by environmental variation and species assemblage and that a multivariate approach may allow us to better understand the dynamics within and across aquatic food webs.

  1. Analysis of governmental Web sites on food safety issues: a global perspective.

    PubMed

    Namkung, Young; Almanza, Barbara A

    2006-10-01

    Despite a growing concern over food safety issues, as well as a growing dependence on the Internet as a source of information, little research has been done to examine the presence and relevance of food safety-related information on Web sites. The study reported here conducted Web site analysis in order to examine the current operational status of governmental Web sites on food safety issues. The study also evaluated Web site usability, especially information dimensionalities such as utility, currency, and relevance of content, from the perspective of the English-speaking consumer. Results showed that out of 192 World Health Organization members, 111 countries operated governmental Web sites that provide information about food safety issues. Among 171 searchable Web sites from the 111 countries, 123 Web sites (71.9 percent) were accessible, and 81 of those 123 (65.9 percent) were available in English. The majority of Web sites offered search engine tools and related links for more information, but their availability and utility was limited. In terms of content, 69.9 percent of Web sites offered information on foodborne-disease outbreaks, compared with 31.5 percent that had travel- and health-related information.

  2. Analysis of governmental Web sites on food safety issues: a global perspective.

    PubMed

    Namkung, Young; Almanza, Barbara A

    2006-10-01

    Despite a growing concern over food safety issues, as well as a growing dependence on the Internet as a source of information, little research has been done to examine the presence and relevance of food safety-related information on Web sites. The study reported here conducted Web site analysis in order to examine the current operational status of governmental Web sites on food safety issues. The study also evaluated Web site usability, especially information dimensionalities such as utility, currency, and relevance of content, from the perspective of the English-speaking consumer. Results showed that out of 192 World Health Organization members, 111 countries operated governmental Web sites that provide information about food safety issues. Among 171 searchable Web sites from the 111 countries, 123 Web sites (71.9 percent) were accessible, and 81 of those 123 (65.9 percent) were available in English. The majority of Web sites offered search engine tools and related links for more information, but their availability and utility was limited. In terms of content, 69.9 percent of Web sites offered information on foodborne-disease outbreaks, compared with 31.5 percent that had travel- and health-related information. PMID:17066944

  3. A unifying approach for food webs, phylogeny, social networks, and statistics.

    PubMed

    Chiu, Grace S; Westveld, Anton H

    2011-09-20

    A food web consists of nodes, each consisting of one or more species. The role of each node as predator or prey determines the trophic relations that weave the web. Much effort in trophic food web research is given to understand the connectivity structure, or the nature and degree of dependence among nodes. Social network analysis (SNA) techniques--quantitative methods commonly used in the social sciences to understand network relational structure--have been used for this purpose, although postanalysis effort or biological theory is still required to determine what natural factors contribute to the feeding behavior. Thus, a conventional SNA alone provides limited insight into trophic structure. Here we show that by using novel statistical modeling methodologies to express network links as the random response of within- and internode characteristics (predictors), we gain a much deeper understanding of food web structure and its contributing factors through a unified statistical SNA. We do so for eight empirical food webs: Phylogeny is shown to have nontrivial influence on trophic relations in many webs, and for each web trophic clustering based on feeding activity and on feeding preference can differ substantially. These and other conclusions about network features are purely empirical, based entirely on observed network attributes while accounting for biological information built directly into the model. Thus, statistical SNA techniques, through statistical inference for feeding activity and preference, provide an alternative perspective of trophic clustering to yield comprehensive insight into food web structure.

  4. Predator hunting mode influences patterns of prey use from grazing and epigeic food webs.

    PubMed

    Wimp, Gina M; Murphy, Shannon M; Lewis, Danny; Douglas, Margaret R; Ambikapathi, Ramya; Van-Tull, Lie'Ann; Gratton, Claudio; Denno, Robert F

    2013-02-01

    Multichannel omnivory by generalist predators, especially the use of both grazing and epigeic prey, has the potential to increase predator abundance and decrease herbivore populations. However, predator use of the epigeic web (soil surface detritus/microbe/algae consumers) varies considerably for reasons that are poorly understood. We therefore used a stable isotope approach to determine whether prey availability and predator hunting style (active hunting vs. passive web-building) impacted the degree of multichannel omnivory by the two most abundant predators on an intertidal salt marsh, both spiders. We found that carbon isotopic values of herbivores remained constant during the growing season, while values for epigeic feeders became dramatically more enriched such that values for the two webs converged in August. Carbon isotopic values for both spider species remained midway between the two webs as values for epigeic feeders shifted, indicating substantial use of prey from both food webs by both spider species. As the season progressed, prey abundance in the grazing food web increased while prey abundance in the epigeic web remained constant or declined. In response, prey consumption by the web-building spider shifted toward the grazing web to a much greater extent than did consumption by the hunting spider, possibly because passive web-capture is more responsive to changes in prey availability. Although both generalist predator species engaged in multichannel omnivory, hunting mode influenced the extent to which these predators used prey from the grazing and epigeic food webs, and could thereby influence the strength of trophic cascades in both food webs.

  5. Energy and nutrient flows connecting coastal wetland food webs to land and lake

    EPA Science Inventory

    Both landscape character and hydrologic forces (principally, tributary discharge and seiches) can influence utilization of externally-derived energy and nutrients in coastal wetland food webs. We quantified the contribution of internal vs external energy and nutrients among wetla...

  6. Integrating Ecosystem Engineering and Food Web Ecology: Testing the Effect of Biogenic Reefs on the Food Web of a Soft-Bottom Intertidal Area

    PubMed Central

    De Smet, Bart; Fournier, Jérôme; De Troch, Marleen; Vincx, Magda; Vanaverbeke, Jan

    2015-01-01

    The potential of ecosystem engineers to modify the structure and dynamics of food webs has recently been hypothesised from a conceptual point of view. Empirical data on the integration of ecosystem engineers and food webs is however largely lacking. This paper investigates the hypothesised link based on a field sampling approach of intertidal biogenic aggregations created by the ecosystem engineer Lanice conchilega (Polychaeta, Terebellidae). The aggregations are known to have a considerable impact on the physical and biogeochemical characteristics of their environment and subsequently on the abundance and biomass of primary food sources and the macrofaunal (i.e. the macro-, hyper- and epibenthos) community. Therefore, we hypothesise that L. conchilega aggregations affect the structure, stability and isotopic niche of the consumer assemblage of a soft-bottom intertidal food web. Primary food sources and the bentho-pelagic consumer assemblage of a L. conchilega aggregation and a control area were sampled on two soft-bottom intertidal areas along the French coast and analysed for their stable isotopes. Despite the structural impacts of the ecosystem engineer on the associated macrofaunal community, the presence of L. conchilega aggregations only has a minor effect on the food web structure of soft-bottom intertidal areas. The isotopic niche width of the consumer communities of the L. conchilega aggregations and control areas are highly similar, implying that consumer taxa do not shift their diet when feeding in a L. conchilega aggregation. Besides, species packing and hence trophic redundancy were not affected, pointing to an unaltered stability of the food web in the presence of L. conchilega. PMID:26496349

  7. Integrating Ecosystem Engineering and Food Web Ecology: Testing the Effect of Biogenic Reefs on the Food Web of a Soft-Bottom Intertidal Area.

    PubMed

    De Smet, Bart; Fournier, Jérôme; De Troch, Marleen; Vincx, Magda; Vanaverbeke, Jan

    2015-01-01

    The potential of ecosystem engineers to modify the structure and dynamics of food webs has recently been hypothesised from a conceptual point of view. Empirical data on the integration of ecosystem engineers and food webs is however largely lacking. This paper investigates the hypothesised link based on a field sampling approach of intertidal biogenic aggregations created by the ecosystem engineer Lanice conchilega (Polychaeta, Terebellidae). The aggregations are known to have a considerable impact on the physical and biogeochemical characteristics of their environment and subsequently on the abundance and biomass of primary food sources and the macrofaunal (i.e. the macro-, hyper- and epibenthos) community. Therefore, we hypothesise that L. conchilega aggregations affect the structure, stability and isotopic niche of the consumer assemblage of a soft-bottom intertidal food web. Primary food sources and the bentho-pelagic consumer assemblage of a L. conchilega aggregation and a control area were sampled on two soft-bottom intertidal areas along the French coast and analysed for their stable isotopes. Despite the structural impacts of the ecosystem engineer on the associated macrofaunal community, the presence of L. conchilega aggregations only has a minor effect on the food web structure of soft-bottom intertidal areas. The isotopic niche width of the consumer communities of the L. conchilega aggregations and control areas are highly similar, implying that consumer taxa do not shift their diet when feeding in a L. conchilega aggregation. Besides, species packing and hence trophic redundancy were not affected, pointing to an unaltered stability of the food web in the presence of L. conchilega.

  8. Food web structure in oil sands reclaimed wetlands.

    PubMed

    Kovalenko, K E; Ciborowski, J J H; Daly, C; Dixon, D G; Farwell, A J; Foote, A L; Frederick, K R; Costa, J M Gardner; Kennedy, K; Liber, K; Roy, M C; Slama, C A; Smits, J E G

    2013-07-01

    Boreal wetlands play an important role in global carbon balance. However, their ecosystem function is threatened by direct anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. Oil sands surface mining in the boreal regions of Western Canada denudes tracts of land of organic materials, leaves large areas in need of reclamation, and generates considerable quantities of extraction process-affected materials. Knowledge and validation of reclamation techniques that lead to self-sustaining wetlands has lagged behind development of protocols for reclaiming terrestrial systems. It is important to know whether wetlands reclaimed with oil sands process materials can be restored to levels equivalent to their original ecosystem function. We approached this question by assessing carbon flows and food web structure in naturally formed and oil sands-affected wetlands constructed in 1970-2004 in the postmining landscape. We evaluated whether a prescribed reclamation strategy, involving organic matter amendment, accelerated reclaimed wetland development, leading to wetlands that were more similar to their natural marsh counterparts than wetlands that were not supplemented with organic matter. We measured compartment standing stocks for bacterioplankton, microbial biofilm, macrophytes, detritus, and zoobenthos; concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and residual naphthenic acids; and microbial production, gas fluxes, and aquatic-terrestrial exports (i.e., aquatic insect emergence). The total biomass of several biotic compartments differed significantly between oil sands and reference wetlands. Submerged macrophyte biomass, macroinvertebrate trophic diversity, and predator biomass and richness were lower in oil sands-affected wetlands than in reference wetlands. There was insufficient evidence to conclude that wetland age and wetland amendment with peat-mineral mix mitigate effects of oil sands waste materials on the fully aquatic biota. Although high variability was observed within

  9. Road Salts as Environmental Constraints in Urban Pond Food Webs

    PubMed Central

    Van Meter, Robin J.; Swan, Christopher M.

    2014-01-01

    Freshwater salinization is an emerging environmental filter in urban aquatic ecosystems that receive chloride road salt runoff from vast expanses of impervious surface cover. Our study was designed to evaluate the effects of chloride contamination on urban stormwater pond food webs through changes in zooplankton community composition as well as density and biomass of primary producers and consumers. From May – July 2009, we employed a 2×2×2 full-factorial design to manipulate chloride concentration (low = 177 mg L−1 Cl−/high = 1067 mg L−1 Cl−), gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles (presence/absence) and source of stormwater pond algae and zooplankton inoculum (low conductance/high conductance urban ponds) in 40, 600-L mesocosms. Road salt did serve as a constraint on zooplankton community structure, driving community divergence between the low and high chloride treatments. Phytoplankton biomass (chlorophyll [a] µg L−1) in the mesocosms was significantly greater for the high conductance inoculum (P<0.001) and in the high chloride treatment (P = 0.046), whereas periphyton biomass was significantly lower in the high chloride treatment (P = 0.049). Gray treefrog tadpole time to metamorphosis did not vary significantly between treatments. However, mass at metamorphosis was greater among tadpoles that experienced a faster than average time to metamorphosis and exposure to high chloride concentrations (P = 0.039). Our results indicate differential susceptibility to chloride salts among algal resources and zooplankton taxa, and further suggest that road salts can act as a significant environmental constraint on urban stormwater pond communities. PMID:24587259

  10. Food web structure in oil sands reclaimed wetlands.

    PubMed

    Kovalenko, K E; Ciborowski, J J H; Daly, C; Dixon, D G; Farwell, A J; Foote, A L; Frederick, K R; Costa, J M Gardner; Kennedy, K; Liber, K; Roy, M C; Slama, C A; Smits, J E G

    2013-07-01

    Boreal wetlands play an important role in global carbon balance. However, their ecosystem function is threatened by direct anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. Oil sands surface mining in the boreal regions of Western Canada denudes tracts of land of organic materials, leaves large areas in need of reclamation, and generates considerable quantities of extraction process-affected materials. Knowledge and validation of reclamation techniques that lead to self-sustaining wetlands has lagged behind development of protocols for reclaiming terrestrial systems. It is important to know whether wetlands reclaimed with oil sands process materials can be restored to levels equivalent to their original ecosystem function. We approached this question by assessing carbon flows and food web structure in naturally formed and oil sands-affected wetlands constructed in 1970-2004 in the postmining landscape. We evaluated whether a prescribed reclamation strategy, involving organic matter amendment, accelerated reclaimed wetland development, leading to wetlands that were more similar to their natural marsh counterparts than wetlands that were not supplemented with organic matter. We measured compartment standing stocks for bacterioplankton, microbial biofilm, macrophytes, detritus, and zoobenthos; concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and residual naphthenic acids; and microbial production, gas fluxes, and aquatic-terrestrial exports (i.e., aquatic insect emergence). The total biomass of several biotic compartments differed significantly between oil sands and reference wetlands. Submerged macrophyte biomass, macroinvertebrate trophic diversity, and predator biomass and richness were lower in oil sands-affected wetlands than in reference wetlands. There was insufficient evidence to conclude that wetland age and wetland amendment with peat-mineral mix mitigate effects of oil sands waste materials on the fully aquatic biota. Although high variability was observed within

  11. Methane carbon supports aquatic food webs to the fish level.

    PubMed

    Sanseverino, Angela M; Bastviken, David; Sundh, Ingvar; Pickova, Jana; Enrich-Prast, Alex

    2012-01-01

    Large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane (CH(4)) are produced by anaerobic mineralization of organic matter in lakes. In spite of extensive freshwater CH(4) emissions, most of the CH(4) is typically oxidized by methane oxidizing bacteria (MOB) before it can reach the lake surface and be emitted to the atmosphere. In turn, it has been shown that the CH(4)-derived biomass of MOB can provide the energy and carbon for zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. In this study, we demonstrate the presence of specific fatty acids synthesized by MOB in fish tissues having low carbon stable isotope ratios. Fish species, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates and the water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes were collected from a shallow lake in Brazil and analyzed for fatty acids (FA) and carbon stable isotope ratios (δ(13)C). The fatty acids 16:1ω8c, 16:1ω8t, 16:1ω6c, 16:1ω5t, 18:1ω8c and 18:1ω8t were used as signature for MOB. The δ(13)C ratios varied from -27.7‰ to -42.0‰ and the contribution of MOB FA ranged from 0.05% to 0.84% of total FA. Organisms with higher total content of MOB FAs presented lower δ(13)C values (i.e. they were more depleted in (13)C), while organisms with lower content of MOB signature FAs showed higher δ(13)C values. An UPGMA cluster analysis was carried out to distinguish grouping of organisms in relation to their MOB FA contents. This combination of stable isotope and fatty acid tracers provides new evidence that assimilation of methane-derived carbon can be an important carbon source for the whole aquatic food web, up to the fish level.

  12. Food web topology and parasites in the pelagic zone of a subarctic lake

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Amundsen, P.-A.; Lafferty, K.D.; Knudsen, R.; Primicerio, R.; Klemetsen, A.; Kuris, A.M.

    2009-01-01

    Parasites permeate trophic webs with their often complex life cycles, but few studies have included parasitism in food web analyses. Here we provide a highly resolved food web from the pelagic zone of a subarctic lake and explore how the incorporation of parasites alters the topology of the web. 2. Parasites used hosts at all trophic levels and increased both food-chain lengths and the total number of trophic levels. Their inclusion in the network analyses more than doubled the number of links and resulted in an increase in important food-web characteristics such as linkage density and connectance. 3. More than half of the parasite taxa were trophically transmitted, exploiting hosts at multiple trophic levels and thus increasing the degree of omnivory in the trophic web. 4. For trophically transmitted parasites, the number of parasite-host links exhibited a positive correlation with the linkage density of the host species, whereas no such relationship was seen for nontrophically transmitted parasites. Our findings suggest that the linkage density of free-living species affects their exposure to trophically transmitted parasites, which may be more likely to adopt highly connected species as hosts during the evolution of complex life cycles. 5. The study supports a prominent role for parasites in ecological networks and demonstrates that their incorporation may substantially alter considerations of food-web structure and functioning. ?? 2009 British Ecological Society.

  13. Food web topology and parasites in the pelagic zone of a subarctic lake.

    PubMed

    Amundsen, Per-Arne; Lafferty, Kevin D; Knudsen, Rune; Primicerio, Raul; Klemetsen, Anders; Kuris, Armand M

    2009-05-01

    1. Parasites permeate trophic webs with their often complex life cycles, but few studies have included parasitism in food web analyses. Here we provide a highly resolved food web from the pelagic zone of a subarctic lake and explore how the incorporation of parasites alters the topology of the web. 2. Parasites used hosts at all trophic levels and increased both food-chain lengths and the total number of trophic levels. Their inclusion in the network analyses more than doubled the number of links and resulted in an increase in important food-web characteristics such as linkage density and connectance. 3. More than half of the parasite taxa were trophically transmitted, exploiting hosts at multiple trophic levels and thus increasing the degree of omnivory in the trophic web. 4. For trophically transmitted parasites, the number of parasite-host links exhibited a positive correlation with the linkage density of the host species, whereas no such relationship was seen for nontrophically transmitted parasites. Our findings suggest that the linkage density of free-living species affects their exposure to trophically transmitted parasites, which may be more likely to adopt highly connected species as hosts during the evolution of complex life cycles. 5. The study supports a prominent role for parasites in ecological networks and demonstrates that their incorporation may substantially alter considerations of food-web structure and functioning.

  14. Spatial Differences in East Scotia Ridge Hydrothermal Vent Food Webs: Influences of Chemistry, Microbiology and Predation on Trophodynamics

    PubMed Central

    Reid, William D. K.; Sweeting, Christopher J.; Wigham, Ben D.; Zwirglmaier, Katrin; Hawkes, Jeffrey A.; McGill, Rona A. R.; Linse, Katrin; Polunin, Nicholas V. C.

    2013-01-01

    The hydrothermal vents on the East Scotia Ridge are the first to be explored in the Antarctic and are dominated by large peltospiroid gastropods, stalked barnacles (Vulcanolepas sp.) and anomuran crabs (Kiwa sp.) but their food webs are unknown. Vent fluid and macroconsumer samples were collected at three vent sites (E2, E9N and E9S) at distances of tens of metres to hundreds of kilometres apart with contrasting vent fluid chemistries to describe trophic interactions and identify potential carbon fixation pathways using stable isotopes. δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon from vent fluids ranged from −4.6‰ to 0.8‰ at E2 and from −4.4‰ to 1.5‰ at E9. The lowest macroconsumer δ13C was observed in peltospiroid gastropods (−30.0‰ to −31.1‰) and indicated carbon fixation via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle by endosymbiotic gamma-Proteobacteria. Highest δ13C occurred in Kiwa sp. (−19.0‰ to −10.5‰), similar to that of the epibionts sampled from their ventral setae. Kiwa sp. δ13C differed among sites, which were attributed to spatial differences in the epibiont community and the relative contribution of carbon fixed via the reductive tricarboxylic acid (rTCA) and CBB cycles assimilated by Kiwa sp. Site differences in carbon fixation pathways were traced into higher trophic levels e.g. a stichasterid asteroid that predates on Kiwa sp. Sponges and anemones at the periphery of E2 assimilated a proportion of epipelagic photosynthetic primary production but this was not observed at E9N. Differences in the δ13C and δ34S values of vent macroconsumers between E2 and E9 sites suggest the relative contributions of photosynthetic and chemoautotrophic carbon fixation (rTCA v CBB) entering the hydrothermal vent food webs vary between the sites. PMID:23762393

  15. Ecological-network models link diversity, structure and function in the plankton food-web.

    PubMed

    D'Alelio, Domenico; Libralato, Simone; Wyatt, Timothy; Ribera d'Alcalà, Maurizio

    2016-02-17

    A planktonic food-web model including sixty-three functional nodes (representing auto- mixo- and heterotrophs) was developed to integrate most trophic diversity present in the plankton. The model was implemented in two variants - which we named 'green' and 'blue' - characterized by opposite amounts of phytoplankton biomass and representing, respectively, bloom and non-bloom states of the system. Taxonomically disaggregated food-webs described herein allowed to shed light on how components of the plankton community changed their trophic behavior in the two different conditions, and modified the overall functioning of the plankton food web. The green and blue food-webs showed distinct organizations in terms of trophic roles of the nodes and carbon fluxes between them. Such re-organization stemmed from switches in selective grazing by both metazoan and protozoan consumers. Switches in food-web structure resulted in relatively small differences in the efficiency of material transfer towards higher trophic levels. For instance, from green to blue states, a seven-fold decrease in phytoplankton biomass translated into only a two-fold decrease in potential planktivorous fish biomass. By linking diversity, structure and function in the plankton food-web, we discuss the role of internal mechanisms, relying on species-specific functionalities, in driving the 'adaptive' responses of plankton communities to perturbations.

  16. From the Cover: Ecological community description using the food web, species abundance, and body size

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cohen, Joel E.; Jonsson, Tomas; Carpenter, Stephen R.

    2003-02-01

    Measuring the numerical abundance and average body size of individuals of each species in an ecological community's food web reveals new patterns and illuminates old ones. This approach is illustrated using data from the pelagic community of a small lake: Tuesday Lake, Michigan, United States. Body mass varies almost 12 orders of magnitude. Numerical abundance varies almost 10 orders of magnitude. Biomass abundance (average body mass times numerical abundance) varies only 5 orders of magnitude. A new food web graph, which plots species and trophic links in the plane spanned by body mass and numerical abundance, illustrates the nearly inverse relationship between body mass and numerical abundance, as well as the pattern of energy flow in the community. Species with small average body mass occur low in the food web of Tuesday Lake and are numerically abundant. Larger-bodied species occur higher in the food web and are numerically rarer. Average body size explains more of the variation in numerical abundance than does trophic height. The trivariate description of an ecological community by using the food web, average body sizes, and numerical abundance includes many well studied bivariate and univariate relationships based on subsets of these three variables. We are not aware of any single community for which all of these relationships have been analyzed simultaneously. Our approach demonstrates the connectedness of ecological patterns traditionally treated as independent. Moreover, knowing the food web gives new insight into the disputed form of the allometric relationship between body mass and abundance.

  17. Robustness of empirical food webs with varying consumer's sensitivities to loss of resources.

    PubMed

    Bellingeri, Michele; Vincenzi, Simone

    2013-09-21

    Food web responses to species loss have been mostly studied in binary food webs, thus without accounting for the amount of energy transferred in consumer-resource interactions. We introduce an energetic criterion, called extinction threshold, for which a species goes secondarily extinct when a certain fraction of its incoming energy is lost. We study the robustness to random node loss of 10 food webs based on empirically-derived weightings. We use different extinction scenarios (random removal and from most- to least-connected species), and we simulate 10(5) replicates for each extinction threshold to account for stochasticity of extinction dynamics. We quantified robustness on the basis of how many additional species (i.e. secondary extinctions) were lost after the direct removal of species (i.e. primary extinctions). For all food webs, the expected robustness linearly decreases with extinction threshold, although a large variance in robustness is observed. The sensitivity of robustness to variations in extinction threshold increases with food web species richness and quantitative unweighted link density, while we observed a nonlinear relationship when the predictor is food web connectance and no relationship with the proportion of autotrophs.

  18. Ecological-network models link diversity, structure and function in the plankton food-web

    PubMed Central

    D’Alelio, Domenico; Libralato, Simone; Wyatt, Timothy; Ribera d’Alcalà, Maurizio

    2016-01-01

    A planktonic food-web model including sixty-three functional nodes (representing auto- mixo- and heterotrophs) was developed to integrate most trophic diversity present in the plankton. The model was implemented in two variants - which we named ‘green’ and ‘blue’ - characterized by opposite amounts of phytoplankton biomass and representing, respectively, bloom and non-bloom states of the system. Taxonomically disaggregated food-webs described herein allowed to shed light on how components of the plankton community changed their trophic behavior in the two different conditions, and modified the overall functioning of the plankton food web. The green and blue food-webs showed distinct organizations in terms of trophic roles of the nodes and carbon fluxes between them. Such re-organization stemmed from switches in selective grazing by both metazoan and protozoan consumers. Switches in food-web structure resulted in relatively small differences in the efficiency of material transfer towards higher trophic levels. For instance, from green to blue states, a seven-fold decrease in phytoplankton biomass translated into only a two-fold decrease in potential planktivorous fish biomass. By linking diversity, structure and function in the plankton food-web, we discuss the role of internal mechanisms, relying on species-specific functionalities, in driving the ‘adaptive’ responses of plankton communities to perturbations. PMID:26883643

  19. Towards a framework for assessment and management of cumulative human impacts on marine food webs.

    PubMed

    Giakoumi, Sylvaine; Halpern, Benjamin S; Michel, Loïc N; Gobert, Sylvie; Sini, Maria; Boudouresque, Charles-François; Gambi, Maria-Cristina; Katsanevakis, Stelios; Lejeune, Pierre; Montefalcone, Monica; Pergent, Gerard; Pergent-Martini, Christine; Sanchez-Jerez, Pablo; Velimirov, Branko; Vizzini, Salvatrice; Abadie, Arnaud; Coll, Marta; Guidetti, Paolo; Micheli, Fiorenza; Possingham, Hugh P

    2015-08-01

    Effective ecosystem-based management requires understanding ecosystem responses to multiple human threats, rather than focusing on single threats. To understand ecosystem responses to anthropogenic threats holistically, it is necessary to know how threats affect different components within ecosystems and ultimately alter ecosystem functioning. We used a case study of a Mediterranean seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) food web and expert knowledge elicitation in an application of the initial steps of a framework for assessment of cumulative human impacts on food webs. We produced a conceptual seagrass food web model, determined the main trophic relationships, identified the main threats to the food web components, and assessed the components' vulnerability to those threats. Some threats had high (e.g., coastal infrastructure) or low impacts (e.g., agricultural runoff) on all food web components, whereas others (e.g., introduced carnivores) had very different impacts on each component. Partitioning the ecosystem into its components enabled us to identify threats previously overlooked and to reevaluate the importance of threats commonly perceived as major. By incorporating this understanding of system vulnerability with data on changes in the state of each threat (e.g., decreasing domestic pollution and increasing fishing) into a food web model, managers may be better able to estimate and predict cumulative human impacts on ecosystems and to prioritize conservation actions. PMID:25704365

  20. Ecological-network models link diversity, structure and function in the plankton food-web.

    PubMed

    D'Alelio, Domenico; Libralato, Simone; Wyatt, Timothy; Ribera d'Alcalà, Maurizio

    2016-01-01

    A planktonic food-web model including sixty-three functional nodes (representing auto- mixo- and heterotrophs) was developed to integrate most trophic diversity present in the plankton. The model was implemented in two variants - which we named 'green' and 'blue' - characterized by opposite amounts of phytoplankton biomass and representing, respectively, bloom and non-bloom states of the system. Taxonomically disaggregated food-webs described herein allowed to shed light on how components of the plankton community changed their trophic behavior in the two different conditions, and modified the overall functioning of the plankton food web. The green and blue food-webs showed distinct organizations in terms of trophic roles of the nodes and carbon fluxes between them. Such re-organization stemmed from switches in selective grazing by both metazoan and protozoan consumers. Switches in food-web structure resulted in relatively small differences in the efficiency of material transfer towards higher trophic levels. For instance, from green to blue states, a seven-fold decrease in phytoplankton biomass translated into only a two-fold decrease in potential planktivorous fish biomass. By linking diversity, structure and function in the plankton food-web, we discuss the role of internal mechanisms, relying on species-specific functionalities, in driving the 'adaptive' responses of plankton communities to perturbations. PMID:26883643

  1. Towards a framework for assessment and management of cumulative human impacts on marine food webs.

    PubMed

    Giakoumi, Sylvaine; Halpern, Benjamin S; Michel, Loïc N; Gobert, Sylvie; Sini, Maria; Boudouresque, Charles-François; Gambi, Maria-Cristina; Katsanevakis, Stelios; Lejeune, Pierre; Montefalcone, Monica; Pergent, Gerard; Pergent-Martini, Christine; Sanchez-Jerez, Pablo; Velimirov, Branko; Vizzini, Salvatrice; Abadie, Arnaud; Coll, Marta; Guidetti, Paolo; Micheli, Fiorenza; Possingham, Hugh P

    2015-08-01

    Effective ecosystem-based management requires understanding ecosystem responses to multiple human threats, rather than focusing on single threats. To understand ecosystem responses to anthropogenic threats holistically, it is necessary to know how threats affect different components within ecosystems and ultimately alter ecosystem functioning. We used a case study of a Mediterranean seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) food web and expert knowledge elicitation in an application of the initial steps of a framework for assessment of cumulative human impacts on food webs. We produced a conceptual seagrass food web model, determined the main trophic relationships, identified the main threats to the food web components, and assessed the components' vulnerability to those threats. Some threats had high (e.g., coastal infrastructure) or low impacts (e.g., agricultural runoff) on all food web components, whereas others (e.g., introduced carnivores) had very different impacts on each component. Partitioning the ecosystem into its components enabled us to identify threats previously overlooked and to reevaluate the importance of threats commonly perceived as major. By incorporating this understanding of system vulnerability with data on changes in the state of each threat (e.g., decreasing domestic pollution and increasing fishing) into a food web model, managers may be better able to estimate and predict cumulative human impacts on ecosystems and to prioritize conservation actions.

  2. Regime shifts in marine communities: a complex systems perspective on food web dynamics

    PubMed Central

    Yletyinen, Johanna; Bodin, Örjan; Weigel, Benjamin; Nordström, Marie C.; Bonsdorff, Erik; Blenckner, Thorsten

    2016-01-01

    Species composition and habitats are changing at unprecedented rates in the world's oceans, potentially causing entire food webs to shift to structurally and functionally different regimes. Despite the severity of these regime shifts, elucidating the precise nature of their underlying processes has remained difficult. We address this challenge with a new analytic approach to detect and assess the relative strength of different driving processes in food webs. Our study draws on complexity theory, and integrates the network-centric exponential random graph modelling (ERGM) framework developed within the social sciences with community ecology. In contrast to previous research, this approach makes clear assumptions of direction of causality and accommodates a dynamic perspective on the emergence of food webs. We apply our approach to analysing food webs of the Baltic Sea before and after a previously reported regime shift. Our results show that the dominant food web processes have remained largely the same, although we detect changes in their magnitudes. The results indicate that the reported regime shift may not be a system-wide shift, but instead involve a limited number of species. Our study emphasizes the importance of community-wide analysis on marine regime shifts and introduces a novel approach to examine food webs. PMID:26888032

  3. Does foraging adaptation create the positive complexity-stability relationship in realistic food-web structure?

    PubMed

    Kondoh, Michio

    2006-02-01

    The adaptive food-web hypothesis suggests that an adaptive foraging switch inverses the classically negative complexity-stability relationships of food webs into positive ones, providing a possible resolution for the long-standing paradox of how populations persist in a complex natural food web. However, its applicability to natural ecosystems has been questioned, because the positive relationship does not emerge when a niche model, a realistic "benchmark" of food-web models, is used. I hypothesize that, in the niche model, increasing connectance influences the fraction of basal species to destabilize the system and this masks the inversion of the negative complexity-stability relationship in the presence of adaptive foraging. A model analysis shows that, if this confounding effect is eliminated, then, even in a niche model, a population is more likely to persist in a more complex food web. This result supports the robustness of adaptive food-web hypothesis and reveals the condition in which the hypothesis should be tested.

  4. Parasites alter the topology of a stream food web across seasons.

    PubMed

    Hernandez, Alexander D; Sukhdeo, Michael V K

    2008-06-01

    Relatively few published food webs have included parasites, and in this study we examined the animal community in a stream across eight contiguous seasons to test how inclusion of helminth parasites alters the topology or structure of the food web. Food webs constructed for each season and analyzed using common binary matrix measures show that species richness, linkage density, and the number of observed and possible links increased when parasites were included as individual species nodes. With parasite-parasite and predator-parasite links omitted, measures of community complexity, such as connectance (C), generally increased over multiple seasons. However, relative nestedness (n*) decreased when parasites were included, which may be a result of low resolution of basal resources inflating specialist-to-specialist links. Overall, adding parasites resulted in moderate changes in food web measures when compared to those of four other published food webs representing different ecosystems. In addition, including parasites in the food web revealed consistent pathways of energy flow, and the association of parasite life histories along these pathways suggest stable evolutionary groups of interacting species within the community.

  5. Development of a multichemical food web model: application to PBDEs in Lake Ellasjoen, Bear Island, Norway.

    PubMed

    Gandhi, Nilima; Bhavsar, Satyendra P; Gewurtz, Sarah B; Diamond, Miriam L; Evenset, Anita; Christensen, Guttorm N; Gregor, Dennis

    2006-08-01

    A multichemical food web model has been developed to estimate the biomagnification of interconverting chemicals in aquatic food webs. We extended a fugacity-based food web model for single chemicals to account for reversible and irreversible biotransformation among a parent chemical and transformation products, by simultaneously solving mass balance equations of the chemicals using a matrix solution. The model can be applied to any number of chemicals and organisms or taxonomic groups in a food web. The model was illustratively applied to four PBDE congeners, BDE-47, -99, -100, and -153, in the food web of Lake Ellasjøen, Bear Island, Norway. In Ellasjøen arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), the multichemical model estimated PBDE biotransformation from higher to lower brominated congeners and improved the correspondence between estimated and measured concentrations in comparison to estimates from the single-chemical food web model. The underestimation of BDE-47, even after considering bioformation due to biotransformation of the otherthree congeners, suggests its formation from additional biotransformation pathways not considered in this application. The model estimates approximate values for congener-specific biotransformation half-lives of 5.7,0.8,1.14, and 0.45 years for BDE-47, -99, -100, and -153, respectively, in large arctic char (S. alpinus) of Lake Ellasjøen. PMID:16913129

  6. Stable nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids reveals food web structure in stream ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Ishikawa, Naoto F; Kato, Yoshikazu; Togashi, Hiroyuki; Yoshimura, Mayumi; Yoshimizu, Chikage; Okuda, Noboru; Tayasu, Ichiro

    2014-07-01

    The stable N isotopic composition of individual amino acids (SIAA) has recently been used to estimate trophic positions (TPs) of animals in several simple food chain systems. However, it is unknown whether the SIAA is applicable to more complex food web analysis. In this study we measured the SIAA of stream macroinvertebrates, fishes, and their potential food sources (periphyton and leaf litter of terrestrial C3 plants) collected from upper and lower sites in two streams having contrasting riparian landscapes. The stable N isotope ratios of glutamic acid and phenylalanine confirmed that for primary producers (periphyton and C3 litter) the TP was 1, and for primary consumers (e.g., mayfly and caddisfly larvae) it was 2. We built a two-source mixing model to estimate the relative contributions of aquatic and terrestrial sources to secondary and higher consumers (e.g., stonefly larva and fishes) prior to the TP calculation. The estimated TPs (2.3-3.5) roughly corresponded to their omnivorous and carnivorous feeding habits, respectively. We found that the SIAA method offers substantial advantages over traditional bulk method for food web analysis because it defines the food web structure based on the metabolic pathway of amino groups, and can be used to estimate food web structure under conditions where the bulk method cannot be used. Our result provides evidence that the SIAA method is applicable to the analysis of complex food webs, where heterogeneous resources are mixed. PMID:24719209

  7. The role of microorganisms in a planktonic food web of a floodplain lake.

    PubMed

    Segovia, Bianca Trevizan; Pereira, Danielle Goeldner; Bini, Luis Mauricio; de Meira, Bianca Ramos; Nishida, Verônica Sayuri; Lansac-Tôha, Fabio Amodêo; Velho, Luiz Felipe Machado

    2015-02-01

    Food webs include complex ecological interactions that define the flow of matter and energy, and are fundamental in understanding the functioning of an ecosystem. Temporal variations in the densities of communities belonging to the planktonic food web (i.e., microbial: bacteria, flagellate, and ciliate; and grazing: zooplankton and phytoplankton) were investigated, aiming to clarify the interactions between these organisms and the dynamics of the planktonic food web in a floodplain lake. We hypothesized that hydrological pulse determines the path of matter and energy flow through the planktonic food web of this floodplain lake. Data were collected monthly from March 2007 to February 2008 at three different sites in Guaraná Lake (Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil). The path analysis provided evidence that the dynamics of the planktonic food web was strongly influenced by the hydrological pulse. The high-water period favored interactions among the organisms of the microbial loop, rather than their relationships with zooplankton and phytoplankton. Therefore, in this period, the strong interaction among the organisms of the grazing food chain suggests that the microbial loop functions as a sink of matter and energy. In turn, in the low-water period, higher primary productivity appeared to favor different interactions between the components of the grazing food chain and microorganisms, which would function as a link to the higher trophic levels. PMID:25213653

  8. Trophic transfer of metals along freshwater food webs: Evidence of cadmium biomagnification in nature

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Croteau, M.-N.; Luoma, S.N.; Stewart, A.R.

    2005-01-01

    We conducted a study with cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu) in the delta of San Francisco Bay, using nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes to identify trophic position and food web structure. Cadmium is progressively enriched among trophic levels in discrete epiphyte-based food webs composed of macrophyte-dwelling invertebrates (the first link being epiphytic algae) and fishes (the first link being gobies). Cadmium concentrations were biomagnified 15 times within the scope of two trophic links in both food webs. Trophic enrichment in invertebrates was twice that of fishes. No tendency toward trophic-level enrichment was observed for Cu, regardless of whether organisms were sorted by food web or treated on a taxonomic basis within discrete food webs. The greatest toxic effects of Cd are likely to occur with increasing trophic positions, where animals are ingesting Cd-rich prey (or food). In Franks Tract this occurs within discrete food chains composed of macrophyte-dwelling invertebrates or fishes inhabiting submerged aquatic vegetation. Unraveling ecosystem complexity is necessary before species most exposed and at risk can be identified. ?? 2005, by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.

  9. Antarctic marine biodiversity and deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

    PubMed

    Chown, Steven L

    2012-01-01

    The diversity of many marine benthic groups is unlike that of most other taxa. Rather than declining from the tropics to the poles, much of the benthos shows high diversity in the Southern Ocean. Moreover, many species are unique to the Antarctic region. Recent work has shown that this is also true of the communities of Antarctic deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Vent ecosystems have been documented from many sites across the globe, associated with the thermally and chemically variable habitats found around these, typically high temperature, streams that are rich in reduced compounds and polymetallic sulphides. The animal communities of the East Scotia Ridge vent ecosystems are very different to those elsewhere, though the microbiota, which form the basis of vent food webs, show less differentiation. Much of the biological significance of deep-sea hydrothermal vents lies in their biodiversity, the diverse biochemistry of their bacteria, the remarkable symbioses among many of the marine animals and these bacteria, and the prospects that investigations of these systems hold for understanding the conditions that may have led to the first appearance of life. The discovery of diverse and unusual Antarctic hydrothermal vent ecosystems provides opportunities for new understanding in these fields. Moreover, the Antarctic vents south of 60°S benefit from automatic conservation under the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Antarctic Treaty. Other deep-sea hydrothermal vents located in international waters are not protected and may be threatened by growing interests in deep-sea mining.

  10. The impact of nonlinear functional responses on the long-term evolution of food web structure.

    PubMed

    Drossel, Barbara; McKane, Alan J; Quince, Christopher

    2004-08-21

    We investigate the long-term web structure emerging in evolutionary food web models when different types of functional responses are used. We find that large and complex webs with several trophic layers arise only if the population dynamics is such that it allows predators to focus on their best prey species. This can be achieved using modified Lotka-Volterra or Holling/Beddington functional responses with effective couplings that depend on the predator's efficiency at exploiting the prey, or a ratio-dependent functional response with adaptive foraging. In contrast, if standard Lotka-Volterra or Holling/Beddington functional responses are used, long-term evolution generates webs with almost all species being basal, and with additionally many links between these species. Interestingly, in all cases studied, a large proportion of weak links result naturally from the evolution of the food webs.

  11. What do molecular methods bring to host-parasitoid food webs?

    PubMed

    Hrček, Jan; Godfray, H Charles J

    2015-01-01

    Quantitative food webs are valuable tools to detect patterns in community structure and generate hypotheses for experimentation. Quantitative webs of whole communities are usually not feasible to build, and most attention focuses on assemblages of species that interact in similar ways. Hosts and parasitoids are a popular guild for study, and quantitative webs have traditionally been constructed by collecting, rearing, and identifying large samples of individuals from the field. In the past decade molecular methods have begun to be used extensively in studies of host-parasitoid webs to clarify species concepts. We review how this rapidly developing field is using molecular information to detect cryptic interactions between species and to increase our understanding of the phylogenetic and mechanistic processes which structure food webs.

  12. Phylogeny determines the role of helminth parasites in intertidal food webs.

    PubMed

    Poulin, Robert; Krasnov, Boris R; Pilosof, Shai; Thieltges, David W

    2013-11-01

    1. Parasites affect interactions among species in food webs and should be considered in any analysis of the structure, dynamics or resilience of trophic networks. 2. However, the roles of individual parasite species, such as their importance as connectors within the network, and what factors determine these roles, are yet to be investigated. Here, we test the hypotheses that the species roles of trematode, cestode and nematode parasites in aquatic food webs are influenced by the type of definitive host they use, and also determined by their phylogenetic affiliations. 3. We quantified the network role of 189 helminth species from six highly resolved intertidal food webs. We focused on four measures of centrality (node degree, closeness centrality, betweenness centrality and eigenvalue centrality), which characterize each parasite's position within the web, and on relative connectedness of a parasite species to taxa in its own module vs. other modules of the web (within-module degree and participation coefficient). 4. All six food webs displayed a significant modular structure, that is, they consisted of subsets of species interacting mostly with each other and less with species from other subsets. We demonstrated that the parasites themselves are not generating this modularity, though they contribute to intermodule connectivity. 5. Mixed-effects models revealed only a modest influence of the type of definitive host used (bird or fish) and of the web of origin on the different measures of parasite species roles. In contrast, the taxonomic affiliations of the parasites, included in the models as nested random factors, accounted for 37-93% of the total variance, depending on the measure of species role. 6. Our findings indicate that parasites are important intermodule connectors and thus contribute to web cohesion. We also uncover a very strong phylogenetic signal in parasite species roles, suggesting that the role of any parasite species in a food web, including new

  13. Lateral cascade of indirect effects in food webs with different types of adaptive behavior.

    PubMed

    Kamran-Disfani, Ahmad R; Golubski, Antonio J

    2013-12-21

    It is widely recognized that indirect effects due to adaptive behaviors can have important effects on food webs. One consequence may be to change how readily perturbations propagate through the web, because species' behaviors as well as densities may respond to perturbations. It is not well understood which types of behavior are more likely to facilitate versus inhibit propagation of disturbances through a food web, or how this might be affected by the shape of a food web or the patterns of interaction strengths within it. We model two simple, laterally expanded food webs (one with three trophic levels and one with four), and compare how various adaptive behaviors affect the potential for a newly introduced predator to change the equilibrium densities of distant species. Patterns of changes in response to the introduction were qualitatively similar across most models, as were the ways in which patterns of direct interaction strengths affected those responses. Depending on both the web structure and the specific adaptive behavior, the potential for density changes to propagate through the web could be either increased or diminished relative to the no-behavior model. Two behaviors allowed density changes to propagate through a four-level web that precluded such propagation in the no-behavior model, and each of these two behaviors led to qualitatively different patterns of density changes. In the one model (diet choice) in which density changes were able to propagate in both web structures, patterns of density changes differed qualitatively between webs. Some of our results flowed from the fact that behaviors did not interact directly in the systems we considered, so that indirect effects on distant species had to be at least partly density-mediated. Our models highlight this as an inherent limitation of considering in isolation behaviors that are strictly foraging-related or strictly defense-related, making a case for the value of simultaneously considering multiple

  14. Microbial mercury methylation in Antarctic sea ice.

    PubMed

    Gionfriddo, Caitlin M; Tate, Michael T; Wick, Ryan R; Schultz, Mark B; Zemla, Adam; Thelen, Michael P; Schofield, Robyn; Krabbenhoft, David P; Holt, Kathryn E; Moreau, John W

    2016-01-01

    Atmospheric deposition of mercury onto sea ice and circumpolar sea water provides mercury for microbial methylation, and contributes to the bioaccumulation of the potent neurotoxin methylmercury in the marine food web. Little is known about the abiotic and biotic controls on microbial mercury methylation in polar marine systems. However, mercury methylation is known to occur alongside photochemical and microbial mercury reduction and subsequent volatilization. Here, we combine mercury speciation measurements of total and methylated mercury with metagenomic analysis of whole-community microbial DNA from Antarctic snow, brine, sea ice and sea water to elucidate potential microbially mediated mercury methylation and volatilization pathways in polar marine environments. Our results identify the marine microaerophilic bacterium Nitrospina as a potential mercury methylator within sea ice. Anaerobic bacteria known to methylate mercury were notably absent from sea-ice metagenomes. We propose that Antarctic sea ice can harbour a microbial source of methylmercury in the Southern Ocean. PMID:27670112

  15. Food Chains & Webs. A Multimedia CD-ROM. [CD-ROM].

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    2001

    This CD-ROM is designed for classroom and individual use to teach and learn about food chains and food webs. Integrated animations, custom graphics, three-dimensional representations, photographs, and sound are featured for use in user-controlled activities. Interactive lessons are available to reinforce the subject material. Pre- and post-testing…

  16. Soil invertebrate/micro-invertebrate interactions: disproportionate effects of species on food web structure and function.

    PubMed

    Moore, J C; DeRuiter, P C; Hunt, H W

    1993-06-01

    The preservation of biodiversity requires an appreciation of food web structure and an understanding of how disturbance alters their structure and function. Theoretical and empirical studies of food webs demonstrate that food webs possess a regular structure. Food chain length appears limited to three to four transfers, and, complexity and diversity are constrained. When ecosystem energetics are considered, species within food webs are seen to form interactive assemblages that process matter at different rates and respond to disturbance differently. Disturbance may affect the diversity of a system, or, may influence the relative importance of one species assemblage over another. Moreover, predicting the impact of disturbance on a system is difficult as species that comprise and process a small fraction of the system's biomass may control a disproportionate fraction of the system's biomass and diversity. Seven food webs at four sites were used in a modeling exercise to demonstrate this point. Field studies involving the role of mycorrhizal fungi yielded results consistent with the modeling studies as the types of plant species present, the level of production and the diversity of production were related to the levels of mycorrhizal fungi in the soils following disturbance. The results indicate that all species are important to ecosystem structure and function and that the monitoring of ecosystems and conservation efforts should expand their emphasis to the preservation of ecosystem integrity as well as that of individual species.

  17. Defining ecospace of Arctic marine food webs using a novel quantitative approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gale, M.; Loseto, L. L.

    2011-12-01

    The Arctic is currently facing unprecedented change with developmental, physical and climatological changes. Food webs within the marine Arctic environment are highly susceptible to anthropogenic stressors and have thus far been understudied. Stable isotopes, in conjunction with a novel set of metrics, may provide a framework that allows us to understand which areas of the Arctic are most vulnerable to change. The objective of this study was to use linear distance metrics applied to stable isotopes to a) define and quantify four Arctic marine food webs in ecospace; b) enable quantifiable comparisons among the four food webs and with other ecosystems; and, c) evaluate vulnerability of the four food webs to anthropogenic stressors such as climate change. The areas studied were Hudson Bay, Beaufort Sea, Lancaster Sound and North Water Polynya. Each region was selected based on the abundance of previous research and published and available stable isotope data in peer-review literature. We selected species to cover trophic levels ranging from particulate matter to polar bears with consideration of pelagic, benthic and ice-associated energy pathways. We interpret higher diversity in baseline carbon energy as signifying higher stability in food web structure. Based on this, the Beaufort Sea food web had the highest stability; the Beaufort Sea food web occupied the largest isotopic niche space and was supported by multiple carbon sources. Areas with top-down control system, such as Lancaster Sound and North Water Polynya, would be the first to experience an increase in trophic redundancy and possible hardships from external stressors, as they have fewer basal carbon sources and greater numbers of mid-high level consumers. We conclude that a diverse carbon energy based ecosystem such as the Beaufort Sea and Hudson Bay regions are more resilient to change than a top down control system.

  18. The meaning of functional trait composition of food webs for ecosystem functioning.

    PubMed

    Gravel, Dominique; Albouy, Camille; Thuiller, Wilfried

    2016-05-19

    There is a growing interest in using trait-based approaches to characterize the functional structure of animal communities. Quantitative methods have been derived mostly for plant ecology, but it is now common to characterize the functional composition of various systems such as soils, coral reefs, pelagic food webs or terrestrial vertebrate communities. With the ever-increasing availability of distribution and trait data, a quantitative method to represent the different roles of animals in a community promise to find generalities that will facilitate cross-system comparisons. There is, however, currently no theory relating the functional composition of food webs to their dynamics and properties. The intuitive interpretation that more functional diversity leads to higher resource exploitation and better ecosystem functioning was brought from plant ecology and does not apply readily to food webs. Here we appraise whether there are interpretable metrics to describe the functional composition of food webs that could foster a better understanding of their structure and functioning. We first distinguish the various roles that traits have on food web topology, resource extraction (bottom-up effects), trophic regulation (top-down effects), and the ability to keep energy and materials within the community. We then discuss positive effects of functional trait diversity on food webs, such as niche construction and bottom-up effects. We follow with a discussion on the negative effects of functional diversity, such as enhanced competition (both exploitation and apparent) and top-down control. Our review reveals that most of our current understanding of the impact of functional trait diversity on food web properties and functioning comes from an over-simplistic representation of network structure with well-defined levels. We, therefore, conclude with propositions for new research avenues for both theoreticians and empiricists. PMID:27114571

  19. The meaning of functional trait composition of food webs for ecosystem functioning.

    PubMed

    Gravel, Dominique; Albouy, Camille; Thuiller, Wilfried

    2016-05-19

    There is a growing interest in using trait-based approaches to characterize the functional structure of animal communities. Quantitative methods have been derived mostly for plant ecology, but it is now common to characterize the functional composition of various systems such as soils, coral reefs, pelagic food webs or terrestrial vertebrate communities. With the ever-increasing availability of distribution and trait data, a quantitative method to represent the different roles of animals in a community promise to find generalities that will facilitate cross-system comparisons. There is, however, currently no theory relating the functional composition of food webs to their dynamics and properties. The intuitive interpretation that more functional diversity leads to higher resource exploitation and better ecosystem functioning was brought from plant ecology and does not apply readily to food webs. Here we appraise whether there are interpretable metrics to describe the functional composition of food webs that could foster a better understanding of their structure and functioning. We first distinguish the various roles that traits have on food web topology, resource extraction (bottom-up effects), trophic regulation (top-down effects), and the ability to keep energy and materials within the community. We then discuss positive effects of functional trait diversity on food webs, such as niche construction and bottom-up effects. We follow with a discussion on the negative effects of functional diversity, such as enhanced competition (both exploitation and apparent) and top-down control. Our review reveals that most of our current understanding of the impact of functional trait diversity on food web properties and functioning comes from an over-simplistic representation of network structure with well-defined levels. We, therefore, conclude with propositions for new research avenues for both theoreticians and empiricists.

  20. The effects of food web structure on ecosystem function exceeds those of precipitation.

    PubMed

    Trzcinski, M Kurtis; Srivastava, Diane S; Corbara, Bruno; Dézerald, Olivier; Leroy, Céline; Carrias, Jean-François; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2016-09-01

    Ecosystems are being stressed by climate change, but few studies have tested food web responses to changes in precipitation patterns and the consequences to ecosystem function. Fewer still have considered whether results from one geographic region can be applied to other regions, given the degree of community change over large biogeographic gradients. We assembled, in one field site, three types of macroinvertebrate communities within water-filled bromeliads. Two represented food webs containing both a fast filter feeder-microbial and slow detritivore energy channels found in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, and one represented the structurally simpler food webs in French Guiana, which only contained the fast filter feeder-microbial channel. We manipulated the amount and distribution of rain entering bromeliads and examined how food web structure mediated ecosystem responses to changes in the quantity and temporal distribution of precipitation. Food web structure affected the survival of functional groups in general and ecosystem functions such as decomposition and the production of fine particulate organic matter. Ecosystem processes were more affected by decreased precipitation than were the abundance of micro-organisms and metazoans. In our experiments, the sensitivity of the ecosystem to precipitation change was primarily revealed in the food web dominated by the single filter feeder-microbial channel because other top-down and bottom-up processes were weak or absent. Our results show stronger effects of food web structure than precipitation change per se on the functioning of bromeliad ecosystems. Consequently, we predict that ecosystem function in bromeliads throughout the Americas will be more sensitive to changes in the distribution of species, rather than to the direct effects caused by changes in precipitation. PMID:27120013

  1. Impact of nitrogen deposition on forest and lake food webs in nitrogen-limited environments.

    PubMed

    Meunier, Cédric L; Gundale, Michael J; Sánchez, Irene S; Liess, Antonia

    2016-01-01

    Increased reactive nitrogen (Nr ) deposition has raised the amount of N available to organisms and has greatly altered the transfer of energy through food webs, with major consequences for trophic dynamics. The aim of this review was to: (i) clarify the direct and indirect effects of Nr deposition on forest and lake food webs in N-limited biomes, (ii) compare and contrast how aquatic and terrestrial systems respond to increased Nr deposition, and (iii) identify how the nutrient pathways within and between ecosystems change in response to Nr deposition. We present that Nr deposition releases primary producers from N limitation in both forest and lake ecosystems and raises plants' N content which in turn benefits herbivores with high N requirements. Such trophic effects are coupled with a general decrease in biodiversity caused by different N-use efficiencies; slow-growing species with low rates of N turnover are replaced by fast-growing species with high rates of N turnover. In contrast, Nr deposition diminishes below-ground production in forests, due to a range of mechanisms that reduce microbial biomass, and decreases lake benthic productivity by switching herbivore growth from N to phosphorus (P) limitation, and by intensifying P limitation of benthic fish. The flow of nutrients between ecosystems is expected to change with increasing Nr deposition. Due to higher litter production and more intense precipitation, more terrestrial matter will enter lakes. This will benefit bacteria and will in turn boost the microbial food web. Additionally, Nr deposition promotes emergent insects, which subsidize the terrestrial food web as prey for insectivores or by dying and decomposing on land. So far, most studies have examined Nr -deposition effects on the food web base, whereas our review highlights that changes at the base of food webs substantially impact higher trophic levels and therefore food web structure and functioning.

  2. The effects of food web structure on ecosystem function exceeds those of precipitation.

    PubMed

    Trzcinski, M Kurtis; Srivastava, Diane S; Corbara, Bruno; Dézerald, Olivier; Leroy, Céline; Carrias, Jean-François; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2016-09-01

    Ecosystems are being stressed by climate change, but few studies have tested food web responses to changes in precipitation patterns and the consequences to ecosystem function. Fewer still have considered whether results from one geographic region can be applied to other regions, given the degree of community change over large biogeographic gradients. We assembled, in one field site, three types of macroinvertebrate communities within water-filled bromeliads. Two represented food webs containing both a fast filter feeder-microbial and slow detritivore energy channels found in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, and one represented the structurally simpler food webs in French Guiana, which only contained the fast filter feeder-microbial channel. We manipulated the amount and distribution of rain entering bromeliads and examined how food web structure mediated ecosystem responses to changes in the quantity and temporal distribution of precipitation. Food web structure affected the survival of functional groups in general and ecosystem functions such as decomposition and the production of fine particulate organic matter. Ecosystem processes were more affected by decreased precipitation than were the abundance of micro-organisms and metazoans. In our experiments, the sensitivity of the ecosystem to precipitation change was primarily revealed in the food web dominated by the single filter feeder-microbial channel because other top-down and bottom-up processes were weak or absent. Our results show stronger effects of food web structure than precipitation change per se on the functioning of bromeliad ecosystems. Consequently, we predict that ecosystem function in bromeliads throughout the Americas will be more sensitive to changes in the distribution of species, rather than to the direct effects caused by changes in precipitation.

  3. Climate change impacts in multispecies systems: drought alters food web size structure in a field experiment.

    PubMed

    Woodward, Guy; Brown, Lee E; Edwards, Francois K; Hudson, Lawrence N; Milner, Alexander M; Reuman, Daniel C; Ledger, Mark E

    2012-11-01

    Experimental data from intergenerational field manipulations of entire food webs are scarce, yet such approaches are essential for gauging impacts of environmental change in natural systems. We imposed 2 years of intermittent drought on stream channels in a replicated field trial, to measure food web responses to simulated climate change. Drought triggered widespread losses of species and links, with larger taxa and those that were rare for their size, many of which were predatory, being especially vulnerable. Many network properties, including size-scaling relationships within food chains, changed in response to drought. Other properties, such as connectance, were unaffected. These findings highlight the need for detailed experimental data from different organizational levels, from pairwise links to the entire food web. The loss of not only large species, but also those that were rare for their size, provides a newly refined way to gauge likely impacts that may be applied more generally to other systems and/or impacts.

  4. Climate change impacts in multispecies systems: drought alters food web size structure in a field experiment.

    PubMed

    Woodward, Guy; Brown, Lee E; Edwards, Francois K; Hudson, Lawrence N; Milner, Alexander M; Reuman, Daniel C; Ledger, Mark E

    2012-11-01

    Experimental data from intergenerational field manipulations of entire food webs are scarce, yet such approaches are essential for gauging impacts of environmental change in natural systems. We imposed 2 years of intermittent drought on stream channels in a replicated field trial, to measure food web responses to simulated climate change. Drought triggered widespread losses of species and links, with larger taxa and those that were rare for their size, many of which were predatory, being especially vulnerable. Many network properties, including size-scaling relationships within food chains, changed in response to drought. Other properties, such as connectance, were unaffected. These findings highlight the need for detailed experimental data from different organizational levels, from pairwise links to the entire food web. The loss of not only large species, but also those that were rare for their size, provides a newly refined way to gauge likely impacts that may be applied more generally to other systems and/or impacts. PMID:23007087

  5. Parameter uncertainty, sensitivity, and sediment coupling in bioenergetics-based food web models

    SciTech Connect

    Barron, M.G.; Cacela, D.; Beltman, D.

    1995-12-31

    A bioenergetics-based food web model was developed and calibrated using measured PCB water and sediment concentrations in two Great Lakes food webs: Green Bay, Michigan and Lake Ontario. The model incorporated functional based trophic levels and sediment, water, and food chain exposures of PCBs to aquatic biota. Sensitivity analysis indicated the parameters with the greatest influence on PCBs in top predators were lipid content of plankton and benthos, planktivore assimilation efficiency, Kow, prey selection, and ambient temperature. Sediment-associated PCBs were estimated to contribute over 90% of PCBs in benthivores and less than 50% in piscivores. Ranges of PCB concentrations in top predators estimated by Monte Carlo simulation incorporating parameter uncertainty were within one order of magnitude of modal values. Model applications include estimation of exceedences of human and ecological thresholds. The results indicate that point estimates from bioenergetics-based food web models have substantial uncertainty that should be considered in regulatory and scientific applications.

  6. Vertical flux of biogenic carbon in the ocean: Is there food web control?

    SciTech Connect

    Rivkin, R.B.; Legendre, L.; Deibel, D.

    1996-05-24

    Models of biogenic carbon (BC) flux assume that short herbivorous food chains lead to high export, whereas complex microbial or omnivorous food webs lead to recycling and low export, and that export of BC from the euphotic zone equals new production (NP). In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, particulate organic carbon fluxes were similar during the spring phytoplankton bloom, when herbivory dominated, and during nonbloom conditions, when microbial and omnivorous food webs dominated. In contrast, NP was 1.2 to 161 times greater during the bloom than after it. Thus, neither food web structure nor NP can predict the magnitude or patterns of BC export, particularly on time scales over which the ocean is in nonequilibrium conditions. 29 refs., 3 figs., 1 tab.

  7. Sources and transfers of methylmercury in adjacent river and forest food webs.

    PubMed

    Tsui, Martin Tsz Ki; Blum, Joel D; Kwon, Sae Yun; Finlay, Jacques C; Balogh, Steven J; Nollet, Yabing H

    2012-10-16

    Nearly all ecosystems are contaminated with highly toxic methylmercury (MeHg), but the specific sources and pathways leading to the uptake of MeHg within and among food webs are not well understood. In this study, we report stable mercury (Hg) isotope compositions in food webs in a river and an adjacent forest in northern California and demonstrate the utility of Hg isotopes for studying MeHg sources and cross-habitat transfers. We observed large differences in both δ(202)Hg (mass-dependent fractionation) and Δ(199)Hg (mass-independent fractionation) within both food webs. The majority of isotopic variation within each food web could be accounted for by differing proportions of inorganic Hg [Hg(II)] and MeHg along food chains. We estimated mean isotope values of Hg(II) and MeHg in each habitat and found a large difference in δ(202)Hg between Hg(II) and MeHg (∼2.7‰) in the forest but not in the river (∼0.25‰). This is consistent with in situ Hg(II) methylation in the study river but suggests Hg(II) methylation may not be important in the forest. In fact, the similarity in δ(202)Hg between MeHg in forest food webs and Hg(II) in precipitation suggests that MeHg in forest food webs may be derived from atmospheric sources (e.g., rainfall, fog). Utilizing contrasting δ(202)Hg values between MeHg in river food webs (-1.0‰) and MeHg in forest food webs (+0.7‰), we estimate with a two-source mixing model that ∼55% of MeHg in two riparian spiders is derived from riverine sources while ∼45% of MeHg originates from terrestrial sources. Thus, stable Hg isotopes can provide new information on subtle differences in sources of MeHg and trace MeHg transfers within and among food webs in natural ecosystems.

  8. Planktonic food webs revisited: Reanalysis of results from the linear inverse approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hlaili, Asma Sakka; Niquil, Nathalie; Legendre, Louis

    2014-01-01

    Identification of the trophic pathway that dominates a given planktonic assemblage is generally based on the distribution of biomasses among food-web compartments, or better, the flows of materials or energy among compartments. These flows are obtained by field observations and a posteriori analyses, including the linear inverse approach. In the present study, we re-analysed carbon flows obtained by inverse analysis at 32 stations in the global ocean and one large lake. Our results do not support two "classical" views of plankton ecology, i.e. that the herbivorous food web is dominated by mesozooplankton grazing on large phytoplankton, and the microbial food web is based on microzooplankton significantly consuming bacteria; our results suggest instead that phytoplankton are generally grazed by microzooplankton, of which they are the main food source. Furthermore, we identified the "phyto-microbial food web", where microzooplankton largely feed on phytoplankton, in addition to the already known "poly-microbial food web", where microzooplankton consume more or less equally various types of food. These unexpected results led to a (re)definition of the conceptual models corresponding to the four trophic pathways we found to exist in plankton, i.e. the herbivorous, multivorous, and two types of microbial food web. We illustrated the conceptual trophic pathways using carbon flows that were actually observed at representative stations. The latter can be calibrated to correspond to any field situation. Our study also provides researchers and managers with operational criteria for identifying the dominant trophic pathway in a planktonic assemblage, these criteria being based on the values of two carbon ratios that could be calculated from flow values that are relatively easy to estimate in the field.

  9. Nutrition Content of Food and Beverage Products on Web Sites Popular With Children

    PubMed Central

    Lingas, Elena O.; Bukofzer, Eliana

    2009-01-01

    We assessed the nutritional quality of branded food and beverage products advertised on 28 Web sites popular with children. Of the 77 advertised products for which nutritional information was available, 49 met Institute of Medicine criteria for foods to avoid, 23 met criteria for foods to neither avoid nor encourage, and 5 met criteria for foods to encourage. There is a need for further research on the nature and extent of food and beverage advertising online to aid policymakers as they assess the impact of this marketing on children. PMID:19443816

  10. Anthropogenic and natural sources of acidity and metals and their influence on the structure of stream food webs.

    PubMed

    Hogsden, Kristy L; Harding, Jon S

    2012-03-01

    We compared food web structure in 20 streams with either anthropogenic or natural sources of acidity and metals or circumneutral water chemistry in New Zealand. Community and diet analysis indicated that mining streams receiving anthropogenic inputs of acidic and metal-rich drainage had much simpler food webs (fewer species, shorter food chains, less links) than those in naturally acidic, naturally high metal, and circumneutral streams. Food webs of naturally high metal streams were structurally similar to those in mining streams, lacking fish predators and having few species. Whereas, webs in naturally acidic streams differed very little from those in circumneutral streams due to strong similarities in community composition and diets of secondary and top consumers. The combined negative effects of acidity and metals on stream food webs are clear. However, elevated metal concentrations, regardless of source, appear to play a more important role than acidity in driving food web structure. PMID:22088498

  11. A new modeling approach to define marine ecosystems food-web status with uncertainty assessment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chaalali, Aurélie; Saint-Béat, Blanche; Lassalle, Géraldine; Le Loc'h, François; Tecchio, Samuele; Safi, Georges; Savenkoff, Claude; Lobry, Jérémy; Niquil, Nathalie

    2015-06-01

    Ecosystem models are currently one of the most powerful approaches used to project and analyse the consequences of anthropogenic and climate-driven changes in food web structure and function. The modeling community is however still finding the effective representation of microbial processes as challenging and lacks of techniques for assessing flow uncertainty explicitly. A linear inverse model of the Bay of Biscay continental shelf was built using a Monte Carlo method coupled with a Markov Chain (LIM-MCMC) to characterize the system's trophic food-web status and its associated structural and functional properties. By taking into account the natural variability of ecosystems (and their associated flows) and the lack of data on these environments, this innovative approach enabled the quantification of uncertainties for both estimated flows and derived food-web indices. This uncertainty assessment constituted a real improvement on the existing Ecopath model for the same area and both models results were compared. Our results suggested a food web characterized by main flows at the basis of the food web and a high contribution of primary producers and detritus to the entire system input flows. The developmental stage of the ecosystem was characterized using estimated Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) indices; the LIM-MCMC produced a higher estimate of flow specialization (than the estimate from Ecopath) owing to better consideration of bacterial processes. The results also pointed to a detritus-based food-web with a web-like structure and an intermediate level of internal flow complexity, confirming the results of previous studies. Other current research on ecosystem model comparability is also presented.

  12. The role of body mass in diet contiguity and food-web structure.

    PubMed

    Stouffer, Daniel B; Rezende, Enrico L; Amaral, Luís A Nunes

    2011-05-01

    1. The idea that species occupy distinct niches is a fundamental concept in ecology. Classically, the niche was described as an n-dimensional hypervolume where each dimension represents a biotic or abiotic characteristic. More recently, it has been hypothesised that a single dimension may be sufficient to explain the system-level organization of trophic interactions observed between species in a community. 2. Here, we test the hypothesis that species body mass is that single dimension. Specifically, we determine how the intervality of food webs ordered by body size compares to that of randomly ordered food webs. We also extend this analysis beyond the community level to the effect of body mass in explaining the diets of individual species. 3. We conclude that body mass significantly explains the ordering of species and the contiguity of diets in empirical communities. 4. At the species-specific level, we find that the degree to which body mass is a significant explanatory variable depends strongly on the phylogenetic history, suggesting that other evolutionarily conserved traits partly account for species' roles in the food web. 5. Our investigation of the role of body mass in food webs thus helps us to better understand the important features of community food-web structure and the evolutionary forces that have led us to the communities we observe.

  13. The cesium:potassium index of food web structure -- A complementary approach to stable isotope indicators

    SciTech Connect

    Young, D.

    1995-12-31

    Stable isotope shifts with trophic or average feeding level are an important tool in characterizing sampled food webs for biomagnification and other studies. However, spatial and temporal variations in isotope ratios in the environment can introduce uncertainties in interpreting such data. An elemental index, the Cs/K ratio, has proved to be a useful tool in assessing the reliability of the trophic level approach to characterizing marine and estuarine food webs. A major advantage is the constant value of this elemental ratio in seawater. Studies conducted over the last three decades in a variety of aquatic ecosystems generally have yielded consistent results using the Cs/K Index. The mean Trophic Transfer Factor obtained from twelve food web surveys was 2.0 +/- 0.1 (SE), indicating substantial structure for most of the food webs sampled. An empirical technique, termed the Exponential Biomagnification Model, was developed to simplify the observed variation of Cs/K with Trophic Level Assignment. This approach has proved useful in assessing sampled food webs with non-integer Trophic Level Assignments, and obtaining average Trophic Transfer Factors for the Cs/K ratio and corresponding tissue concentrations of environmental contaminants.

  14. How habitat-modifying organisms structure the food web of two coastal ecosystems.

    PubMed

    van der Zee, Els M; Angelini, Christine; Govers, Laura L; Christianen, Marjolijn J A; Altieri, Andrew H; van der Reijden, Karin J; Silliman, Brian R; van de Koppel, Johan; van der Geest, Matthijs; van Gils, Jan A; van der Veer, Henk W; Piersma, Theunis; de Ruiter, Peter C; Olff, Han; van der Heide, Tjisse

    2016-03-16

    The diversity and structure of ecosystems has been found to depend both on trophic interactions in food webs and on other species interactions such as habitat modification and mutualism that form non-trophic interaction networks. However, quantification of the dependencies between these two main interaction networks has remained elusive. In this study, we assessed how habitat-modifying organisms affect basic food web properties by conducting in-depth empirical investigations of two ecosystems: North American temperate fringing marshes and West African tropical seagrass meadows. Results reveal that habitat-modifying species, through non-trophic facilitation rather than their trophic role, enhance species richness across multiple trophic levels, increase the number of interactions per species (link density), but decrease the realized fraction of all possible links within the food web (connectance). Compared to the trophic role of the most highly connected species, we found this non-trophic effects to be more important for species richness and of more or similar importance for link density and connectance. Our findings demonstrate that food webs can be fundamentally shaped by interactions outside the trophic network, yet intrinsic to the species participating in it. Better integration of non-trophic interactions in food web analyses may therefore strongly contribute to their explanatory and predictive capacity. PMID:26962135

  15. Legacy effects of drought on plant growth and the soil food web.

    PubMed

    de Vries, Franciska Trijntje; Liiri, Mira E; Bjørnlund, Lisa; Setälä, Heikki M; Christensen, Søren; Bardgett, Richard D

    2012-11-01

    Soils deliver important ecosystem services, such as nutrient provision for plants and the storage of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), which are greatly impacted by drought. Both plants and soil biota affect soil C and N availability, which might in turn affect their response to drought, offering the potential to feed back on each other's performance. In a greenhouse experiment, we compared legacy effects of repeated drought on plant growth and the soil food web in two contrasting land-use systems: extensively managed grassland, rich in C and with a fungal-based food web, and intensively managed wheat lower in C and with a bacterial-based food web. Moreover, we assessed the effect of plant presence on the recovery of the soil food web after drought. Drought legacy effects increased plant growth in both systems, and a plant strongly reduced N leaching. Fungi, bacteria, and their predators were more resilient after drought in the grassland soil than in the wheat soil. The presence of a plant strongly affected the composition of the soil food web, and alleviated the effects of drought for most trophic groups, regardless of the system. This effect was stronger for the bottom trophic levels, whose resilience was positively correlated to soil available C. Our results show that plant belowground inputs have the potential to affect the recovery of belowground communities after drought, with implications for the functions they perform, such as C and N cycling.

  16. How habitat-modifying organisms structure the food web of two coastal ecosystems.

    PubMed

    van der Zee, Els M; Angelini, Christine; Govers, Laura L; Christianen, Marjolijn J A; Altieri, Andrew H; van der Reijden, Karin J; Silliman, Brian R; van de Koppel, Johan; van der Geest, Matthijs; van Gils, Jan A; van der Veer, Henk W; Piersma, Theunis; de Ruiter, Peter C; Olff, Han; van der Heide, Tjisse

    2016-03-16

    The diversity and structure of ecosystems has been found to depend both on trophic interactions in food webs and on other species interactions such as habitat modification and mutualism that form non-trophic interaction networks. However, quantification of the dependencies between these two main interaction networks has remained elusive. In this study, we assessed how habitat-modifying organisms affect basic food web properties by conducting in-depth empirical investigations of two ecosystems: North American temperate fringing marshes and West African tropical seagrass meadows. Results reveal that habitat-modifying species, through non-trophic facilitation rather than their trophic role, enhance species richness across multiple trophic levels, increase the number of interactions per species (link density), but decrease the realized fraction of all possible links within the food web (connectance). Compared to the trophic role of the most highly connected species, we found this non-trophic effects to be more important for species richness and of more or similar importance for link density and connectance. Our findings demonstrate that food webs can be fundamentally shaped by interactions outside the trophic network, yet intrinsic to the species participating in it. Better integration of non-trophic interactions in food web analyses may therefore strongly contribute to their explanatory and predictive capacity.

  17. Niche evolution, trophic structure, and species turnover in model food webs.

    PubMed

    Ingram, Travis; Harmon, Luke J; Shurin, Jonathan B

    2009-07-01

    The features that govern the stability and persistence of species interaction networks, such as food webs, remain elusive, but recent work suggests that the distribution and strength of trophic links play an important role. Potential omnivory-stability relationships have been investigated and debated extensively, but we still have a relatively poor understanding of how levels of omnivory relate to the stability of diverse food webs. Here, we use an evolutionary assembly model to investigate how different trade-offs in resource use influence both food web structure and dynamic stability during the assembly process. We build on a previous model by allowing speciation along with the evolution of two traits: body size and feeding-niche width. Across a wide range of conditions, the level of omnivory in a food web is positively related to its dynamic instability (variability and species turnover). Parameter values favoring omnivory also allow a wider range of phenotypes to invade, often displacing existing species. This high species turnover leaves signatures in reconstructed phylogenies, with shorter branches connecting extant species in more omnivorous food webs. Our findings suggest that features of the environment may influence both trophic structure and dynamic stability, leading to emergent omnivory-stability relationships.

  18. Transcriptome of the Antarctic amphipod Gondogeneia antarctica and its response to pollutant exposure.

    PubMed

    Kang, Seunghyun; Kim, Sanghee; Park, Hyun

    2015-12-01

    Gondogeneia antarctica is widely distributed off the western Antarctic Peninsula and is a key species in the Antarctic food web. In this study, we performed Illumina sequencing to produce a total of 4,599,079,601 (4.6Gb) nucleotides and a comprehensive transcript dataset for G. antarctica. Over 46 million total reads were assembled into 20,749 contigs, and 12,461 annotated genes were predicted by Blastx. The RNA-seq results after exposure to three pollutants showed that 658, 169 and 367 genes that were potential biomarkers of responses to pollutants for this species were specifically upregulated after exposure to PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), respectively. These data represent the first transcriptome resource for the Antarctic amphipod G. antarctica and provide a useful resource for studying Antarctic marine species.

  19. Hydrological and Biogeochemical Controls on Seasonal and Spatial Differences in Food Webs in the Everglades

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kendall, C.; Wankel, S. D.; Bemis, B. E.; Rawlik, P. S.; Krabbenhoft, D. P.; Lange, T.

    2002-05-01

    Stable isotopes can be used to determine the relative trophic positions of biota within a food web, and to improve our understanding of the biomagnification of contaminants. Plants at the base of the food web uptake dissolved organic carbon (DIC) and nitrogen (DIN) for growth, and their tissue reflects the isotopic composition of these sources. Animals then mirror the isotopic composition of the primary producers, as modified by consumer-diet fractionations at successive trophic steps. During 1995-99, we collected algae, macrophyte, invertebrate, and fish samples from 15 USGS sites in the Everglades and analyzed them for d13C and d15N with the goal of characterizing seasonal and spatial differences in food web relations. Carbon isotopes effectively distinguish between two main types of food webs: ones where algae is the dominant base of the food web, which are characteristic of relatively pristine marsh sites with long hydroperiods, and ones where macrophyte debris appears to be a significant source of nutrients, which are apparently characteristic of shorter hydroperiod sites, and nutrient-impacted marshes and canals. There usually is an inverse relation between d13C and d15N of organisms over time, especially in more pristine environments, reflecting seasonal changes in the d13C of DIC and the d15N of DIN. The d13C and d15N of algae also show strong positive correlations with seasonal changes in water levels. This variability is substantially damped up the food chain, probably because of the longer integration times of animals vs. plants. We speculate that these seasonal shifts in water level result in changes in biogeochemical reactions and nutrient levels, with corresponding variations in the d15N and d13C of biota. For example, small changes in water level may change the balance of photosynthesis, bacterial respiration, and atmospheric exchange reactions that control the d13C of DIC. Such changes will probably also affect the d15N of dissolved inorganic N (DIN

  20. Distributions of key exposure factors controlling the uptake of xenobiotic chemicals in an estuarine food web

    SciTech Connect

    Iannuzzi, T.J.; Harrington, N.W.; Shear, N.M.; Curry, C.L.; Carlson-Lynch, H.; Henning, M.H.; Su, S.H.; Rabbe, D.E.

    1996-11-01

    A critical evaluation of literature on the behavior, physiology, and ecology of common estuarine organisms was conducted in an attempt to develop probabilistic distributions for those variables that influence the uptake of xenobiotic chemicals from sediments, water, and food sources. The ranges, central tendencies, and distributions of several key parameter values were identified for dominant organisms from various trophic levels, including the polychaete Nereis virens, mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), and striped bass (Morone saxatilis). The exposure factors of interest included ingestion rate for various food sources, growth rate, respiration rate, excretion rate, body weight, wet/dry weight ratio, lipid content, chemical assimilation efficiency, and food assimilation efficiency. These exposure factors are critical to the execution of mechanistic food web models, which, when properly calibrated, can be used to estimate tissue concentrations of nonionic chemicals in aquatic organisms based on knowledge of the bioenergetics and feeding interactions within a food web and the sediment and water concentrations of chemicals. In this article the authors describe the use of distributions for various exposure factors in the context of a mechanistic bioaccumulation model that is amenable to probabilistic analyses for multiple organisms within a food web. A case study is provided which compares the estimated versus measured concentrations of five polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners in a representative food web from the tidal portion of the Passaic River, New Jersey, USA. The results suggest that the model is accurate within an order of magnitude or less in estimating the bioaccumulation of PCBs in this food web without calibration. The results of a model sensitivity analysis suggest that the input parameters which most influence the output of the model are both chemical and organism specific.

  1. The rapid return of marine-derived nutrients to a freshwater food web following dam removal

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tonra, Christopher M; Sager-Fradkin, Kimberly A.; Morley, Sarah A; Duda, Jeff; Marra, Peter P.

    2015-01-01

    Dam removal is increasingly being recognized as a viable river restoration action. Although the main beneficiaries of restored connectivity are often migratory fish populations, little is known regarding recovery of other parts of the freshwater food web, particularly terrestrial components. We measured stable isotopes in key components to the freshwater food web: salmon, freshwater macroinvertebrates and a river specialist bird, American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), before and after removal of the Elwha Dam, WA, USA. Less than a year after dam removal, salmon returned to the system and released marine-derived nutrients (MDN). In that same year we documented an increase in stable-nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios in American dippers. These results indicate that MDN from anadromous fish, an important nutrient subsidy that crosses the aquatic–terrestrial boundary, can return rapidly to food webs after dams are removed which is an important component of ecosystem recovery.

  2. More than a meal: integrating non-feeding interactions into food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kéfi, Sonia; Berlow, Eric L.; Wieters, Evie A.; Navarrete, Sergio A.; Petchey, Owen L.; Wood, Spencer A.; Boit, Alice; Joppa, Lucas N.; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Williams, Richard J.; Martinez, Neo D.; Menge, Bruce A.; Blanchette, Carol A.; Iles, Alison C.; Brose, Ulrich

    2012-01-01

    Organisms eating each other are only one of many types of well documented and important interactions among species. Other such types include habitat modification, predator interference and facilitation. However, ecological network research has been typically limited to either pure food webs or to networks of only a few (<3) interaction types. The great diversity of non-trophic interactions observed in nature has been poorly addressed by ecologists and largely excluded from network theory. Herein, we propose a conceptual framework that organises this diversity into three main functional classes defined by how they modify specific parameters in a dynamic food web model. This approach provides a path forward for incorporating non-trophic interactions in traditional food web models and offers a new perspective on tackling ecological complexity that should stimulate both theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding the patterns and dynamics of diverse species interactions in nature.

  3. Indicator species for limited budgets: Profiles of trophic levels, food web placement, and ecotoxicological sensitivity

    SciTech Connect

    Sorenson, M.T.; Margolin, J.A.

    1995-12-31

    The identification of indicator and/or keystone species is directly related to the success of a quantitative Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) at a hazardous waste site. In a fiscally perfect world, species would be selected to represent each and every trophic level within the aquatic and/or terrestrial food web. However, because limited budgets are the norm, scientifically valid ``shortcuts`` are in high demand. LAW has conducted quantitative ERAs at more than thirty hazardous waste sites, with as many as ten indicator species per site (selected to represent trophic levels within each habitat type present). Data from these assessments have been compiled and evaluated for the purpose of identifying species which demonstrate the highest toxicological sensitivity within the food web. Budgets can be reduced by incorporating this proposed quantitative screening-level ERA approach. This presentation will specify quantitative ERA methodology, ecotoxicological extrapolations, uncertainties to consider, trophic level profiles, food web placement, and indicator species sensitivity.

  4. US Food and Drug Administration Web Site: A Primer for Pharmacists.

    PubMed

    Leonard, James; Baker, Danial E

    2015-11-01

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web site includes a vast amount of information, but it can be difficult to navigate. Despite frequently asked question (FAQ)-type pages within the Web site, it may not be easy for first-time users to find drug information. This article presents some examples of common questions, provides the locations of the answers on the FDA Web site, and gives a brief description of some of the many resources the FDA provides for health care professionals. Additionally, a newer project being undertaken by the FDA, Snapshot, is introduced. PMID:27621506

  5. Biomagnification of mercury in aquatic food webs: a worldwide meta-analysis.

    PubMed

    Lavoie, Raphael A; Jardine, Timothy D; Chumchal, Matthew M; Kidd, Karen A; Campbell, Linda M

    2013-01-01

    The slope of the simple linear regression between log10 transformed mercury (Hg) concentration and stable nitrogen isotope values (δ(15)N), hereafter called trophic magnification slope (TMS), from several trophic levels in a food web can represent the overall degree of Hg biomagnification. We compiled data from 69 studies that determined total Hg (THg) or methyl Hg (MeHg) TMS values in 205 aquatic food webs worldwide. Hg TMS values were compared against physicochemical and biological factors hypothesized to affect Hg biomagnification in aquatic systems. Food webs ranged across 1.7 ± 0.7 (mean ± SD) and 1.8 ± 0.8 trophic levels (calculated using δ(15)N from baseline to top predator) for THg and MeHg, respectively. The average trophic level (based on δ(15)N) of the upper-trophic-level organisms in the food web was 3.7 ± 0.8 and 3.8 ± 0.8 for THg and MeHg food webs, respectively. For MeHg, the mean TMS value was 0.24 ± 0.08 but varied from 0.08 to 0.53 and was, on average, 1.5 times higher than that for THg with a mean of 0.16 ± 0.11 (range: -0.19 to 0.48). Both THg and MeHg TMS values were significantly and positively correlated with latitude. TMS values in freshwater sites increased with dissolved organic carbon and decreased with total phosphorus and atmospheric Hg deposition. Results suggest that Hg biomagnification through food webs is highest in cold and low productivity systems; however, much of the among-system variability in TMS values remains unexplained. We identify critical data gaps and provide recommendations for future studies that would improve our understanding of global Hg biomagnification. PMID:24151937

  6. Parasites affect food web structure primarily through increased diversity and complexity

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dunne, Jennifer A.; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Dobson, Andrew P.; Hechinger, Ryan F.; Kuris, Armand M.; Martinez, Neo D.; McLaughlin, John P.; Mouritsen, Kim N.; Poulin, Robert; Reise, Karsten; Stouffer, Daniel B.; Thieltges, David W.; Williams, Richard J.; Zander, Claus Dieter

    2013-01-01

    Comparative research on food web structure has revealed generalities in trophic organization, produced simple models, and allowed assessment of robustness to species loss. These studies have mostly focused on free-living species. Recent research has suggested that inclusion of parasites alters structure. We assess whether such changes in network structure result from unique roles and traits of parasites or from changes to diversity and complexity. We analyzed seven highly resolved food webs that include metazoan parasite data. Our analyses show that adding parasites usually increases link density and connectance (simple measures of complexity), particularly when including concomitant links (links from predators to parasites of their prey). However, we clarify prior claims that parasites ‘‘dominate’’ food web links. Although parasites can be involved in a majority of links, in most cases classic predation links outnumber classic parasitism links. Regarding network structure, observed changes in degree distributions, 14 commonly studied metrics, and link probabilities are consistent with scale-dependent changes in structure associated with changes in diversity and complexity. Parasite and free-living species thus have similar effects on these aspects of structure. However, two changes point to unique roles of parasites. First, adding parasites and concomitant links strongly alters the frequency of most motifs of interactions among three taxa, reflecting parasites’ roles as resources for predators of their hosts, driven by trophic intimacy with their hosts. Second, compared to free-living consumers, many parasites’ feeding niches appear broader and less contiguous, which may reflect complex life cycles and small body sizes. This study provides new insights about generic versus unique impacts of parasites on food web structure, extends the generality of food web theory, gives a more rigorous framework for assessing the impact of any species on trophic

  7. Effects of lake acidification and recovery on the stability of zooplankton food webs

    SciTech Connect

    Locke, A. ); Sprules, W.G. )

    1994-03-01

    The effect of food web structure on community stability and resilience has rarely been examined using empirical data. Yet there is a practical application for such studies insofar as resistance stability determines the ability of a system to adsorb' anthropogenic stress and adjustment stability determines the reversibility of resulting damage. The stability of zooplankton food webs in 46 Precambrian Shield lakes was examined using data collected in the 1970s, when pH ranged from 3.8 to 7.0, and in 1990, when pH had increased by up to two units in some lakes. Acidification overcame resistance stability at pH <5.0, as evidenced by decreases in species richness, numbers of predatory and competitive links, directed connectance, predator generalization, and linkage density, identified by analysis of variance. Adjustment stability was demonstrated by changes in food web attributes in lakes with higher pH in 1990 than in the 1970s. Species richness, numbers of predatory and competitive links, linkage density, and predator generalization all increased relative to the 1970s values. Food web attributes of recovering' lakes were statistically indistinguishable from those of lakes of similar pH that had not been more acidic in the 1970s. Similar trajectors of food web change were followed during environmental degradation and recovery. Planktonic food webs of anthropogenically acidified lakes may eventually recover to resemble their pre-acidification condition, given sufficient time without acidic inputs. Whether adjustment stability is a general feature of anthropogenically stressed systems remains to be determined. 42 refs., 2 figs., 4 tabs.

  8. Impacts of food web structure and feeding behavior on mercury exposure in Greenland Sharks (Somniosus microcephalus).

    PubMed

    McMeans, Bailey C; Arts, Michael T; Fisk, Aaron T

    2015-03-15

    Benthic and pelagic food web components in Cumberland Sound, Canada were explored as sources of total mercury (THg) to Greenland Sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) via both bottom-up food web transfer and top-down shark feeding behavior. Log10THg increased significantly with δ(15)N and trophic position from invertebrates (0.01 ± 0.01 μg · g(-1) [113 ± 1 ng · g(-1)] dw in copepods) to Greenland Sharks (3.54 ± 1.02 μg · g(-1)). The slope of the log10THg vs. δ(15)N linear regression was higher for pelagic compared to benthic food web components (excluding Greenland Sharks, which could not be assigned to either food web), which resulted from THg concentrations being higher at the base of the benthic food web (i.e., in benthic than pelagic primary consumers). However, feeding habitat is unlikely to consistently influence shark THg exposure in Cumberland Sound because THg concentrations did not consistently differ between benthic and pelagic shark prey. Further, size, gender and feeding behavior (inferred from stable isotopes and fatty acids) were unable to significantly explain THg variability among individual Greenland Sharks. Possible reasons for this result include: 1) individual sharks feeding as generalists, 2) high overlap in THg among shark prey, and 3) differences in turnover time between ecological tracers and THg. This first assessment of Greenland Shark THg within an Arctic food web revealed high concentrations consistent with biomagnification, but low ability to explain intra-specific THg variability. Our findings of high THg levels and consumption of multiple prey types, however, suggest that Greenland Sharks acquire THg through a variety of trophic pathways and are a significant contributor to the total biotic THg pool in northern seas.

  9. Intraspecific differences in plant chemotype determine the structure of arthropod food webs.

    PubMed

    Bálint, János; Zytynska, Sharon E; Salamon, Rozália Veronika; Mehrparvar, Mohsen; Weisser, Wolfgang W; Schmitz, Oswald J; Benedek, Klára; Balog, Adalbert

    2016-03-01

    It is becoming increasingly appreciated that the structure and functioning of ecological food webs are controlled by the nature and level of plant chemicals. It is hypothesized that intraspecific variation in plant chemical resistance, in which individuals of a host-plant population exhibit genetic differences in their chemical contents (called 'plant chemotypes'), may be an important determinant of variation in food web structure and functioning. We evaluated this hypothesis using field assessments and plant chemical assays in the tansy plant Tanacetum vulgare L. (Asteraceae). We examined food webs in which chemotypes of tansy plants are the resource for two specialized aphids, their predators and mutualistic ants. The density of the ant-tended aphid Metopeurum fuscoviride was significantly higher on particular chemotypes (borneol) than others. Clear chemotype preferences between predators were also detected. Aphid specialist seven-spotted ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata) were more often found on camphor plants, while significantly higher numbers of the polyphagous nursery web spider (Pisaura mirabilis) were observed on borneol plants. The analysis of plant chemotype effects on the arthropod community clearly demonstrates a range of possible outcomes between plant-aphid-predator networks. The findings help to offer a deeper insight into how one important factor--plant chemical content--influences which species coexist within a food web on a particular host plant and the nature of their trophic linkages. PMID:26581421

  10. High-resolution food webs based on nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids.

    PubMed

    Chikaraishi, Yoshito; Steffan, Shawn A; Ogawa, Nanako O; Ishikawa, Naoto F; Sasaki, Yoko; Tsuchiya, Masashi; Ohkouchi, Naohiko

    2014-06-01

    Food webs are known to have myriad trophic links between resource and consumer species. While herbivores have well-understood trophic tendencies, the difficulties associated with characterizing the trophic positions of higher-order consumers have remained a major problem in food web ecology. To better understand trophic linkages in food webs, analysis of the stable nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids has been introduced as a potential means of providing accurate trophic position estimates. In the present study, we employ this method to estimate the trophic positions of 200 free-roaming organisms, representing 39 species in coastal marine (a stony shore) and 38 species in terrestrial (a fruit farm) environments. Based on the trophic positions from the isotopic composition of amino acids, we are able to resolve the trophic structure of these complex food webs. Our approach reveals a high degree of trophic omnivory (i.e., noninteger trophic positions) among carnivorous species such as marine fish and terrestrial hornets.This information not only clarifies the trophic tendencies of species within their respective communities, but also suggests that trophic omnivory may be common in these webs. PMID:25360278

  11. Intraspecific differences in plant chemotype determine the structure of arthropod food webs.

    PubMed

    Bálint, János; Zytynska, Sharon E; Salamon, Rozália Veronika; Mehrparvar, Mohsen; Weisser, Wolfgang W; Schmitz, Oswald J; Benedek, Klára; Balog, Adalbert

    2016-03-01

    It is becoming increasingly appreciated that the structure and functioning of ecological food webs are controlled by the nature and level of plant chemicals. It is hypothesized that intraspecific variation in plant chemical resistance, in which individuals of a host-plant population exhibit genetic differences in their chemical contents (called 'plant chemotypes'), may be an important determinant of variation in food web structure and functioning. We evaluated this hypothesis using field assessments and plant chemical assays in the tansy plant Tanacetum vulgare L. (Asteraceae). We examined food webs in which chemotypes of tansy plants are the resource for two specialized aphids, their predators and mutualistic ants. The density of the ant-tended aphid Metopeurum fuscoviride was significantly higher on particular chemotypes (borneol) than others. Clear chemotype preferences between predators were also detected. Aphid specialist seven-spotted ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata) were more often found on camphor plants, while significantly higher numbers of the polyphagous nursery web spider (Pisaura mirabilis) were observed on borneol plants. The analysis of plant chemotype effects on the arthropod community clearly demonstrates a range of possible outcomes between plant-aphid-predator networks. The findings help to offer a deeper insight into how one important factor--plant chemical content--influences which species coexist within a food web on a particular host plant and the nature of their trophic linkages.

  12. High-resolution food webs based on nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids.

    PubMed

    Chikaraishi, Yoshito; Steffan, Shawn A; Ogawa, Nanako O; Ishikawa, Naoto F; Sasaki, Yoko; Tsuchiya, Masashi; Ohkouchi, Naohiko

    2014-06-01

    Food webs are known to have myriad trophic links between resource and consumer species. While herbivores have well-understood trophic tendencies, the difficulties associated with characterizing the trophic positions of higher-order consumers have remained a major problem in food web ecology. To better understand trophic linkages in food webs, analysis of the stable nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids has been introduced as a potential means of providing accurate trophic position estimates. In the present study, we employ this method to estimate the trophic positions of 200 free-roaming organisms, representing 39 species in coastal marine (a stony shore) and 38 species in terrestrial (a fruit farm) environments. Based on the trophic positions from the isotopic composition of amino acids, we are able to resolve the trophic structure of these complex food webs. Our approach reveals a high degree of trophic omnivory (i.e., noninteger trophic positions) among carnivorous species such as marine fish and terrestrial hornets.This information not only clarifies the trophic tendencies of species within their respective communities, but also suggests that trophic omnivory may be common in these webs.

  13. High-resolution food webs based on nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids

    PubMed Central

    Chikaraishi, Yoshito; Steffan, Shawn A; Ogawa, Nanako O; Ishikawa, Naoto F; Sasaki, Yoko; Tsuchiya, Masashi; Ohkouchi, Naohiko

    2014-01-01

    Food webs are known to have myriad trophic links between resource and consumer species. While herbivores have well-understood trophic tendencies, the difficulties associated with characterizing the trophic positions of higher-order consumers have remained a major problem in food web ecology. To better understand trophic linkages in food webs, analysis of the stable nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids has been introduced as a potential means of providing accurate trophic position estimates. In the present study, we employ this method to estimate the trophic positions of 200 free-roaming organisms, representing 39 species in coastal marine (a stony shore) and 38 species in terrestrial (a fruit farm) environments. Based on the trophic positions from the isotopic composition of amino acids, we are able to resolve the trophic structure of these complex food webs. Our approach reveals a high degree of trophic omnivory (i.e., noninteger trophic positions) among carnivorous species such as marine fish and terrestrial hornets.This information not only clarifies the trophic tendencies of species within their respective communities, but also suggests that trophic omnivory may be common in these webs. PMID:25360278

  14. The Serengeti food web: empirical quantification and analysis of topological changes under increasing human impact.

    PubMed

    de Visser, Sara N; Freymann, Bernd P; Olff, Han

    2011-03-01

    1. To address effects of land use and human overexploitation on wildlife populations, it is essential to better understand how human activities have changed species composition, diversity and functioning. Theoretical studies modelled how network properties change under human-induced, non-random species loss. However, we lack data on realistic species-loss sequences in threatened, real-world food webs to parameterize these models. 2. Here, we present a first size-structured topological food web of one of the most pristine terrestrial ecosystems in the world, the Serengeti ecosystem (Tanzania). The food web consists of 95 grouped nodes and includes both invertebrates and vertebrates ranging from body masses between 10(-7) and 10(4) kg. 3. We study the topological changes in this food web that result from the simulated IUCN-based species-loss sequence representing current species vulnerability to human disturbances in and around this savanna ecosystem. We then compare this realistic extinction scenario with other extinction sequences based on body size and connectance and perform an analysis of robustness of this savanna food web. 4. We demonstrate that real-world species loss in this case starts with the biggest (mega) herbivores and top predators, causing higher predator-prey mass ratios. However, unlike theoretically modelled linear species deletion sequences, this causes poor-connected species to be lost first, while more highly connected species become lost as human impact progresses. This food web shows high robustness to decreasing body size and increasing connectance deletion sequences compared with a high sensitivity to the decreasing connectance deletion scenario. 5. Furthermore, based on the current knowledge of the Serengeti ecosystem, we discuss how the focus on food web topology alone, disregarding nontrophic interactions, may lead to an underestimation of human impacts on wildlife communities, with the number of trophic links affected by a

  15. Synthesis: comparing effects of resource and consumer fluxes into recipient food webs using meta-analysis.

    PubMed

    Allen, Daniel C; Wesner, Jeff S

    2016-03-01

    Here we synthesize empirical research using meta-analysis to compare how consumer and resource fluxes affect recipient food webs. We tested the following hypotheses: (H1) The direct effects of resource fluxes (bottom-up) should be stronger than the direct effects of consumer fluxes (top-down), because resource fluxes are permanent (do not return to the food web in which they were produced) but consumer fluxes may not be (consumers can leave). (H2) Following H1, the indirect effects should attenuate (weaken) more quickly for consumer fluxes than for resource fluxes due to their direct effects being weaker, (H3) The effects of resource fluxes should be stronger when recipient food webs are in different ecosystems than donor food webs due to differences in elevation that accompany cross-ecosystem food web interfaces, often increasing flux quantity due to gravity, while the effects of consumer fluxes should be stronger when donor and recipient food webs are in the same ecosystem as they should more easily assimilate into the recipient food web. We found no differences in the magnitude of bottom-up and top-down direct effects for resource and consumer fluxes, but top-down direct effects were 122% stronger than top-down indirect effects. Indirect effects of prey and predator fluxes quickly attenuated while indirect effects of non-prey resource and herbivore fluxes did not, as the overall direct effects of prey and predator fluxes were 123% and 163% stronger than their indirect effects, respectively. This result suggests that the magnitude of indirect effects decrease as the trophic level of resource and consumer fluxes increases, and also contrasts with results from studies showing in situ top-down indirect effects are stronger than in situ bottom-up indirect effects. We found that resource and consumer flux effect sizes were similar when they occurred between ecosystems, but when they occurred within ecosystems predator flux effects were 107% stronger than nutrient flux

  16. The Serengeti food web: empirical quantification and analysis of topological changes under increasing human impact.

    PubMed

    de Visser, Sara N; Freymann, Bernd P; Olff, Han

    2011-03-01

    1. To address effects of land use and human overexploitation on wildlife populations, it is essential to better understand how human activities have changed species composition, diversity and functioning. Theoretical studies modelled how network properties change under human-induced, non-random species loss. However, we lack data on realistic species-loss sequences in threatened, real-world food webs to parameterize these models. 2. Here, we present a first size-structured topological food web of one of the most pristine terrestrial ecosystems in the world, the Serengeti ecosystem (Tanzania). The food web consists of 95 grouped nodes and includes both invertebrates and vertebrates ranging from body masses between 10(-7) and 10(4) kg. 3. We study the topological changes in this food web that result from the simulated IUCN-based species-loss sequence representing current species vulnerability to human disturbances in and around this savanna ecosystem. We then compare this realistic extinction scenario with other extinction sequences based on body size and connectance and perform an analysis of robustness of this savanna food web. 4. We demonstrate that real-world species loss in this case starts with the biggest (mega) herbivores and top predators, causing higher predator-prey mass ratios. However, unlike theoretically modelled linear species deletion sequences, this causes poor-connected species to be lost first, while more highly connected species become lost as human impact progresses. This food web shows high robustness to decreasing body size and increasing connectance deletion sequences compared with a high sensitivity to the decreasing connectance deletion scenario. 5. Furthermore, based on the current knowledge of the Serengeti ecosystem, we discuss how the focus on food web topology alone, disregarding nontrophic interactions, may lead to an underestimation of human impacts on wildlife communities, with the number of trophic links affected by a

  17. Synthesis: comparing effects of resource and consumer fluxes into recipient food webs using meta-analysis.

    PubMed

    Allen, Daniel C; Wesner, Jeff S

    2016-03-01

    Here we synthesize empirical research using meta-analysis to compare how consumer and resource fluxes affect recipient food webs. We tested the following hypotheses: (H1) The direct effects of resource fluxes (bottom-up) should be stronger than the direct effects of consumer fluxes (top-down), because resource fluxes are permanent (do not return to the food web in which they were produced) but consumer fluxes may not be (consumers can leave). (H2) Following H1, the indirect effects should attenuate (weaken) more quickly for consumer fluxes than for resource fluxes due to their direct effects being weaker, (H3) The effects of resource fluxes should be stronger when recipient food webs are in different ecosystems than donor food webs due to differences in elevation that accompany cross-ecosystem food web interfaces, often increasing flux quantity due to gravity, while the effects of consumer fluxes should be stronger when donor and recipient food webs are in the same ecosystem as they should more easily assimilate into the recipient food web. We found no differences in the magnitude of bottom-up and top-down direct effects for resource and consumer fluxes, but top-down direct effects were 122% stronger than top-down indirect effects. Indirect effects of prey and predator fluxes quickly attenuated while indirect effects of non-prey resource and herbivore fluxes did not, as the overall direct effects of prey and predator fluxes were 123% and 163% stronger than their indirect effects, respectively. This result suggests that the magnitude of indirect effects decrease as the trophic level of resource and consumer fluxes increases, and also contrasts with results from studies showing in situ top-down indirect effects are stronger than in situ bottom-up indirect effects. We found that resource and consumer flux effect sizes were similar when they occurred between ecosystems, but when they occurred within ecosystems predator flux effects were 107% stronger than nutrient flux

  18. A non-equilibrium model for predicting bioaccumulation of organic contaminants in aquatic food-webs

    SciTech Connect

    Morrison, H.; Lazar, R.; Haffner, G.D.; Whittle, D.M.; Gobas, F.A.P.C.

    1995-12-31

    A sub-model describing bioaccumulation and biomagnification in benthic invertebrates was incorporated into a steady-state food-web model (Gobas, 1993) was modified, to estimate concentrations of organic contaminants in aquatic organisms based on chemical concentrations in water and sediments. Model predictions were in good agreement with field data when applied to western Lake Erie. The improved ability of the model to simulate bioaccumulation by benthic invertebrates, makes this model particularly useful for quantifying contaminant transfer in the benthic food-web.

  19. Food web pathway determines how selenium affects aquatic ecosystems: a San Francisco Bay case study.

    PubMed

    Stewart, A Robin; Luoma, Samuel N; Schlekat, Christian E; Doblin, Martina A; Hieb, Kathryn A

    2004-09-01

    Chemical contaminants disrupt ecosystems, but specific effects may be under-appreciated when poorly known processes such as uptake mechanisms, uptake via diet, food preferences, and food web dynamics are influential. Here we show that a combination of food web structure and the physiology of trace element accumulation explain why some species in San Francisco Bay are threatened by a relatively low level of selenium contamination and some are not. Bivalves and crustacean zooplankton form the base of two dominant food webs in estuaries. The dominant bivalve Potamocorbula amurensis has a 10-fold slower rate constant of loss for selenium than do common crustaceans such as copepods and the mysid Neomysis mercedis (rate constant of loss, ke = 0.025, 0.155, and 0.25 d(-1), respectively). The result is much higher selenium concentrations in the bivalve than in the crustaceans. Stable isotope analyses show that this difference is propagated up the respective food webs in San Francisco Bay. Several predators of bivalves have tissue concentrations of selenium that exceed thresholds thought to be associated with teratogenesis or reproductive failure (liver Se >15 microg g(-1) dry weight). Deformities typical of selenium-induced teratogenesis were observed in one of these species. Concentrations of selenium in tissues of predators of zooplankton are less than the thresholds. Basic physiological and ecological processes can drive wide differences in exposure and effects among species, but such processes are rarely considered in traditional evaluations of contaminant impacts. PMID:15461158

  20. Limits to trophic levels and omnivory in complex food webs: theory and data.

    PubMed

    Williams, Richard J; Martinez, Neo D

    2004-03-01

    While trophic levels have found broad application throughout ecology, they are also in much contention on analytical and empirical grounds. Here, we use a new generation of data and theory to examine long-standing questions about trophic-level limits and degrees of omnivory. The data include food webs of the Chesapeake Bay, U.S.A., the island of Saint Martin, a U.K. grassland, and a Florida seagrass community, which appear to be the most trophically complete food webs available in the primary literature due to their inclusion of autotrophs and empirically derived estimates of the relative energetic contributions of each trophic link. We show that most (54%) of the 212 species in the four food webs can be unambiguously assigned to a discrete trophic level. Omnivory among the remaining species appears to be quite limited, as judged by the standard deviation of omnivores' energy-weighted food-chain lengths. This allows simple algorithms based on binary food webs without energetic details to yield surprisingly accurate estimates of species' trophic and omnivory levels. While maximum trophic levels may plausibly exceed historically asserted limits, our analyses contradict both recent empirical claims that these limits are exceeded and recent theoretical claims that rampant omnivory eliminates the scientific utility of the trophic-level concept.

  1. Food web pathway determines how selenium affects aquatic ecosystems: A San francisco Bay case study

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Stewart, A.R.; Luoma, S.N.; Schlekat, C.E.; Doblin, M.A.; Hieb, K.A.

    2004-01-01

    Chemical contaminants disrupt ecosystems, but specific effects may be under-appreciated when poorly known processes such as uptake mechanisms, uptake via diet, food preferences, and food web dynamics are influential. Here we show that a combination of food web structure and the physiology of trace element accumulation explain why some species in San Francisco Bay are threatened by a relatively low level of selenium contamination and some are not. Bivalves and crustacean Zooplankton form the base of two dominant food webs in estuaries. The dominant bivalve Potamocorbula amurensis has a 10-fold slower rate constant of loss for selenium than do common crustaceans such as copepods and the mysid Neomysis mercedis (rate constant of loss, ke = 0.025, 0.155, and 0.25 d-1, respectively). The result is much higher selenium concentrations in the bivalve than in the crustaceans. Stable isotope analyses show that this difference is propagated up the respective food webs in San Francisco Bay. Several predators of bivalves have tissue concentrations of selenium that exceed thresholds thought to be associated with teratogenesis or reproductive failure (liver Se > 15 ??g g-1 dry weight). Deformities typical of selenium-induced teratogenesis were observed in one of these species. Concentrations of selenium in tissues of predators of Zooplankton are less than the thresholds. Basic physiological and ecological processes can drive wide differences in exposure and effects among species, but such processes are rarely considered in traditional evaluations of contaminant impacts.

  2. Using stable isotopes to differentiate trophic feeding channels within soil food webs.

    PubMed

    Crotty, Felicity V; Adl, Sina M; Blackshaw, Rod P; Murray, Philip J

    2012-01-01

    The soil is probably the most diverse habitat there is, with organisms ranging in sizes from less than 1 μm to several metres in length. However, it is increasingly evident that we know little about the interactions occurring between these organisms, the functions that they perform as individual species, or together within their different feeding guilds. These interactions between groups of organisms and physical and chemical processes shape the soil as a habitat and influence the nature of the soil food web with consequences for the above-ground vegetation and food web. Protists are known as one of the most abundant groups of bacterivores within the soil; however, they are also consumers of a number of other food sources. Even though they are responsible for a large proportion of the mineralisation of bacterial biomass and have a large impact on the C and N cycles within the soil they are regularly overlooked when investigating the complete soil food web. Recently, stable isotopes have been used to determine trophic interactions and here we describe how this technique has been used to highlight linkages between protists and the soil food web.

  3. Variable and complex food web structures revealed by exploring missing trophic links between birds and biofilm.

    PubMed

    Kuwae, Tomohiro; Miyoshi, Eiichi; Hosokawa, Shinya; Ichimi, Kazuhiko; Hosoya, Jun; Amano, Tatsuya; Moriya, Toshifumi; Kondoh, Michio; Ydenberg, Ronald C; Elner, Robert W

    2012-04-01

    Food webs are comprised of a network of trophic interactions and are essential to elucidating ecosystem processes and functions. However, the presence of unknown, but critical networks hampers understanding of complex and dynamic food webs in nature. Here, we empirically demonstrate a missing link, both critical and variable, by revealing that direct predator-prey relationships between shorebirds and biofilm are widespread and mediated by multiple ecological and evolutionary determinants. Food source mixing models and energy budget estimates indicate that the strength of the missing linkage is dependent on predator traits (body mass and foraging action rate) and the environment that determines food density. Morphological analyses, showing that smaller bodied species possess more developed feeding apparatus to consume biofilm, suggest that the linkage is also phylogenetically dependent and affords a compelling re-interpretation of niche differentiation. We contend that exploring missing links is a necessity for revealing true network structure and dynamics.

  4. Depth-specific Analyses of the Lake Superior Food Web

    EPA Science Inventory

    Characteristics of large, deep aquatic systems include depth gradients in community composition, in the quality and distribution of food resources, and in the strategies that organisms use to obtain their nutrition. In Lake Superior, nearshore communities that rely upon a combina...

  5. Relation between complexity and stability in food webs with adaptive behavior.

    PubMed

    Uchida, Satoshi; Drossel, Barbara

    2007-08-21

    We investigate the influence of functional responses (Lotka-Volterra or Holling type), initial topological web structure (randomly connected or niche model), adaptive behavior (adaptive foraging and predator avoidance) and the type of constraints on the adaptive behavior (linear or nonlinear) on the stability and structure of food webs. Two kinds of stability are considered: one is the network robustness (i.e., the proportion of species surviving after population dynamics) and the other is the species deletion stability. When evaluating the network structure, we consider link density as well as the trophic level structure. We show that the types of functional responses and initial web structure do not have a large effect on the stability of food webs, but foraging behavior has a large stabilizing effect. It leads to a positive complexity-stability relationship whenever higher "complexity" implies more potential prey per species. The other type of adaptive behavior, predator avoidance behavior, makes food webs only slightly more stable. The observed link density after population dynamics depends strongly on the presence or absence of adaptive foraging, and on the type of constraints used. We also show that the trophic level structure is preserved under population dynamics with adaptive foraging.

  6. Food web of the intertidal rocky shore of the west Portuguese coast - Determined by stable isotope analysis.

    PubMed

    Vinagre, Catarina; Mendonça, Vanessa; Narciso, Luís; Madeira, Carolina

    2015-09-01

    The characterization of food web structure, energy pathways and trophic linkages is essential for the understanding of ecosystem functioning. Isotopic analysis was performed on food web components of the rocky intertidal ecosystem in four sites along the Portuguese west coast. The aim was to 1) determine the general food web structure, 2) estimate the trophic level of the dominant organisms and 3) track the incorporation of organic carbon of different origins in the diet of the top consumers. In this food web, fish are top consumers, followed by shrimp. Anemones and gastropods are intermediate consumers, while bivalves and zooplankton are primary consumers. Macroalgae Bifurcaria bifurcata, Ulva lactuca, Fucus vesiculosus, Codium sp. and phytoplankton are the dominant producers. Two energy pathways were identified, pelagic and benthic. Reliance on the benthic energy pathway was high for many of the consumers but not as high as previously observed in subtidal coastal food webs. The maximum TL was 3.3, which is indicative of a relatively short food web. It is argued that the diet of top consumers relies directly on low levels of the food web to a considerable extent, instead of on intermediate levels, which shortens the trophic length of the food web. PMID:26275753

  7. SEASONAL DYNAMICS OF PCB ACCUMULATION IN A GREAT LAKES FOOD WEB. (R825151)

    EPA Science Inventory

    Seston, sediment, settling organic matter, and food web members were
    collected from Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, between April 1997 and
    September 1998 to examine PCB and toxaphene biomagnification. Stable isotopes of
    nitrogen and carbon were analyzed in sampl...

  8. Columbia River food webs: Developing a broader scientific foundation for river restoration

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Alldredge, J. Richard; Beauchamp, David; Bisson, Peter A.; Congleton, James; Henny, Charles; Huntly, Nancy; Lamberson, Roland; Levings, Colin; Naiman, Robert J.; Pearcy, William; Rieman, Bruce; Ruggerone, Greg; Scarnecchia, Dennis; Smouse, Peter; Wood, Chris C.

    2011-01-01

    The objectives of this report are to provide a fundamental understanding of aquatic food webs in the Columbia River Basin and to illustrate and summarize their influences on native fish restoration efforts. The spatial scope addresses tributaries, impoundments, the free-flowing Columbia and Snake rivers, as well as the estuary and plume. Achieving the Council's vision for the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Program (NPCC 2009-09) of sustaining a "productive and diverse community" that provides "abundant" harvest, is best accomplished through a time-prioritized action plan, one that complements other approaches while addressing important challenges and uncertainties related to the Basin's food webs. Note that the oceanic food webs, although of immense importance in sustaining fish populations, are not considered beyond the plume since they involve an additional set of complex and rapidly evolving issues. An analysis of oceanic food webs of relevance to the Columbia River requires a separately focused effort (e.g., Hoegh- Guldberg and Bruno 2010).

  9. Contribution of nematodes to the structure and function of the soil food web.

    PubMed

    Ferris, Howard

    2010-03-01

    As carbon and energy flow through the soil food web they are depleted by the metabolic and production functions of organisms. To be sustained, a "long" food web, with a large biomass at higher trophic levels, must receive a high rate of rhizodeposition or detrital subsidy, or be top-populated by organisms of slow growth and long life cycle. Disturbed soil food webs tend to be bottom heavy and recalcitrant to restoration due to the slow growth of upper predator populations, physical and chemical constraints of the soil matrix, biological imbalances, and the relatively low mobility and invasion potential of soil organisms. The functional roles of nematodes, determined by their metabolic and behavioral activities, may be categorized as ecosystem services, disservices or effect-neutral. Among the disservices attributable to nematodes are overgrazing, which diminishes services of prey organisms, and plant-damaging herbivory, which reduces carbon fixation and availability to other organisms in the food web. Unfortunately, management to ameliorate potential disservices of certain nematodes results in unintended but long-lasting diminution of the services of others. Beneficial roles of nematodes may be enhanced by environmental stewardship that fosters greater biodiversity and, consequently, complementarity and continuity of their services. PMID:22736838

  10. Coupling of canopy and understory food webs by ground-dwelling predators.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Fox-Dobbs, Kena

    2008-12-01

    Understanding food-web dynamics requires knowing whether species assemblages are compartmentalized into distinct energy channels, and, if so, how these channels are structured in space. We used isotopic analyses to reconstruct the food web of a Kenyan wooded grassland. Insect prey were relatively specialized consumers of either C3 (trees and shrubs) or C4 (grasses) plants. Arboreal predators (arthropods and geckos) were also specialized, deriving c. 90% of their diet from C3-feeding prey. In contrast, ground-dwelling predators preyed considerably upon both C3- and C4-feeding prey. This asymmetry suggests a gravity-driven subsidy of the terrestrial predator community, whereby tree-dwelling prey fall and are consumed by ground-dwelling predators. Thus, predators in general couple the C3 and C4 components of this food web, but ground-dwelling predators perform this ecosystem function more effectively than tree-dwelling ones. Although prey subsidies in vertically structured terrestrial habitats have received little attention, they are likely to be common and important to food-web organization.

  11. The role of a water bug, Sigara striata, in freshwater food webs.

    PubMed

    Klecka, Jan

    2014-01-01

    Freshwater food webs are dominated by aquatic invertebrates whose trophic relationships are often poorly known. Here, I used laboratory experiments to study the role of a water bug, Sigara striata, as a potential predator and prey in food webs of stagnant waters. Multiple-choice predation experiment revealed that Sigara, which had been considered mostly herbivorous, also consumed larvae of Chironomus midges. Because they often occur in high densities and are among the most ubiquitous aquatic insects, Sigara water bugs may be important predators in fresh waters. A second experiment tested the role of Sigara as a potential prey for 13 common invertebrate predators. Mortality of Sigara inflicted by different predators varied widely, especially depending on body mass, foraging mode (ambush/searching) and feeding mode (chewing/suctorial) of the predators. Sigara was highly vulnerable to ambush predators, while searching predators caused on average 8.1 times lower mortality of Sigara. Additionally, suctorial predators consumed on average 6.6 times more Sigara individuals than chewing predators, which supports previous results hinting on potentially different predation pressures of these two types of predators on prey populations. The importance of these two foraging-related traits demonstrates the need to move from body mass based to multiple trait based descriptions of food web structure. Overall, the results suggests that detailed experimental studies of common but insufficiently known species can significantly enhance our understanding of food web structure.

  12. Estuarine consumers utilize marine, estuarine and terrestrial organic matter and provide connectivity among these food webs

    EPA Science Inventory

    The flux of organic matter (OM) across ecosystem boundaries can influence estuarine food web dynamics and productivity. However, this process is seldom investigated taking into account all the adjacent ecosystems (e.g. ocean, river, land) and different hydrological settings (i.e....

  13. NATURAL AND ANTHROPOGENIC FACTORS INFLUENCING FOOD WEB STRUCTURE IN GREAT LAKES COASTAL WETLANDS

    EPA Science Inventory

    We are investigating factors governing the biological organization of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Food web analyses using stable isotope techniques verify the role of algae as an energetic foundation, and also suggest that fundamental changes occur as a result of anthropogenic ...

  14. Evolutionary food web model based on body masses gives realistic networks with permanent species turnover.

    PubMed

    Allhoff, K T; Ritterskamp, D; Rall, B C; Drossel, B; Guill, C

    2015-06-04

    The networks of predator-prey interactions in ecological systems are remarkably complex, but nevertheless surprisingly stable in terms of long term persistence of the system as a whole. In order to understand the mechanism driving the complexity and stability of such food webs, we developed an eco-evolutionary model in which new species emerge as modifications of existing ones and dynamic ecological interactions determine which species are viable. The food-web structure thereby emerges from the dynamical interplay between speciation and trophic interactions. The proposed model is less abstract than earlier evolutionary food web models in the sense that all three evolving traits have a clear biological meaning, namely the average body mass of the individuals, the preferred prey body mass, and the width of their potential prey body mass spectrum. We observed networks with a wide range of sizes and structures and high similarity to natural food webs. The model networks exhibit a continuous species turnover, but massive extinction waves that affect more than 50% of the network are not observed.

  15. Climatic seasonality may affect ecological network structure: food webs and mutualistic networks.

    PubMed

    Takemoto, Kazuhiro; Kanamaru, Saori; Feng, Wenfeng

    2014-07-01

    Ecological networks exhibit non-random structural patterns, such as modularity and nestedness, which determine ecosystem stability with species diversity and connectance. Such structure-stability relationships are well known. However, another important perspective is less well understood: the relationship between the environment and structure. Inspired by theoretical studies that suggest that network structure can change due to environmental variability, we collected data on a number of empirical food webs and mutualistic networks and evaluated the effect of climatic seasonality on ecological network structure. As expected, we found that climatic seasonality affects ecological network structure. In particular, an increase in modularity due to climatic seasonality was observed in food webs; however, it is debatable whether this occurs in mutualistic networks. Interestingly, the type of climatic seasonality that affects network structure differs with ecosystem type. Rainfall and temperature seasonality influence freshwater food webs and mutualistic networks, respectively; food webs are smaller, and more modular, with increasing rainfall seasonality. Mutualistic networks exhibit a higher diversity (particularly of animals) with increasing temperature seasonality. These results confirm the theoretical prediction that the stability increases with greater perturbation. Although these results are still debatable because of several limitations in the data analysis, they may enhance our understanding of environment-structure relationships.

  16. Grazing food web view from compound-specific stable isotope analysis of amino acids

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Knowledge of the trophic position (TP) of organisms in food webs allows ecologists to track energy flow and trophic linkages among organisms in complex networks of ecosystems. Compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA) of amino acids has been employed as a relatively new method with the high p...

  17. Compartments in a marine food web associated with phylogeny, body mass, and habitat structure.

    PubMed

    Rezende, Enrico L; Albert, Eva M; Fortuna, Miguel A; Bascompte, Jordi

    2009-08-01

    A long-standing question in community ecology is whether food webs are organized in compartments, where species within the same compartment interact frequently among themselves, but show fewer interactions with species from other compartments. Finding evidence for this community organization is important since compartmentalization may strongly affect food web robustness to perturbation. However, few studies have found unequivocal evidence of compartments, and none has quantified the suite of mechanisms generating such a structure. Here, we combine computational tools from the physics of complex networks with phylogenetic statistical methods to show that a large marine food web is organized in compartments, and that body size, phylogeny, and spatial structure are jointly associated with such a compartmentalized structure. Sharks account for the majority of predatory interactions within their compartments. Phylogenetically closely related shark species tend to occupy different compartments and have divergent trophic levels, suggesting that competition may play an important role structuring some of these compartments. Current overfishing of sharks has the potential to change the structural properties, which might eventually affect the stability of the food web. PMID:19490028

  18. Non-random food-web assembly at habitat edges increases connectivity and functional redundancy

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Habitat fragmentation dramatically alters the spatial configuration of landscapes, with the creation of artificial edges affecting community structure and species interactions. Despite this, it is not known how the different food-webs in adjacent habitats merge at their boundaries, and what the cons...

  19. Evolutionary food web model based on body masses gives realistic networks with permanent species turnover

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Allhoff, K. T.; Ritterskamp, D.; Rall, B. C.; Drossel, B.; Guill, C.

    2015-06-01

    The networks of predator-prey interactions in ecological systems are remarkably complex, but nevertheless surprisingly stable in terms of long term persistence of the system as a whole. In order to understand the mechanism driving the complexity and stability of such food webs, we developed an eco-evolutionary model in which new species emerge as modifications of existing ones and dynamic ecological interactions determine which species are viable. The food-web structure thereby emerges from the dynamical interplay between speciation and trophic interactions. The proposed model is less abstract than earlier evolutionary food web models in the sense that all three evolving traits have a clear biological meaning, namely the average body mass of the individuals, the preferred prey body mass, and the width of their potential prey body mass spectrum. We observed networks with a wide range of sizes and structures and high similarity to natural food webs. The model networks exhibit a continuous species turnover, but massive extinction waves that affect more than 50% of the network are not observed.

  20. The Importance of Allochthonous Subsidies to an Estuarine Food Web along a Salinity Gradient

    EPA Science Inventory

    Estuarine food webs function within a heterogeneous mosaic and are supported by a mix of primary producers from both local and distant sources. Processes governing the exchange and consumption of organic matter (OM), however, are poorly understood. To study the contribution of ...

  1. Detritus fuels ecosystem metabolism but not metazoan food webs in San Francisco estuary's freshwater delta

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sobczak, W.V.; Cloern, J.E.; Jassby, A.D.; Cole, B.E.; Schraga, T.S.; Arnsberg, A.

    2005-01-01

    Detritus from terrestrial ecosystems is the major source of organic matter in many streams, rivers, and estuaries, yet the role of detritus in supporting pelagic food webs is debated. We examined the importance of detritus to secondary productivity in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta (California, United States), a large complex of tidal freshwater habitats. The Delta ecosystem has low primary productivity but large detrital inputs, so we hypothesized that detritus is the primary energy source fueling production in pelagic food webs. We assessed the sources, quantity, composition, and bioavailability of organic matter among a diversity of habitats (e.g., marsh sloughs, floodplains, tidal lakes, and deep river channels) over two years to test this hypothesis. Our results support the emerging principle that detritus dominates riverine and estuarine organic matter supply and supports the majority of ecosystem metabolism. Yet in contrast to prevailing ideas, we found that detritus was weakly coupled to the Delta's pelagic food web. Results from independent approaches showed that phytoplankton production was the dominant source of organic matter for the Delta's pelagic food web, even though primary production accounts for a small fraction of the Delta's organic matter supply. If these results are general, they suggest that the value of organic matter to higher trophic levels, including species targeted by programs of ecosystem restoration, is a function of phytoplankton production. ?? 2005 Estuarine Research Federation.

  2. MONITORING FOOD WEB CHANGES IN TIDE-RESTORED SALT MARSHES: A CARBON STABLE ISOTOPE APPROACH

    EPA Science Inventory

    Primary producer (angiosperms, macroalgae, submerged aquatic vegetation), suspended particulate matter, and Fundulus heteroclitus isotope values (d13C , d15N, d34S) were examined to assess their use as an indicator for changes in food web support functions in tidally-restored sal...

  3. Contribution of Allochthonous Carbon Subsidies to the Minho Estuary Lower Food Web

    EPA Science Inventory

    To study the contribution of autochthonous and allochthonous organic matter (OM) sources fuelling the lower food web in Minho River estuary (N-Portugal, Europe), we characterized the carbon (?13C) and nitrogen (?15N) stable isotope ratios of zooplankton and their potential OM sou...

  4. The role of a water bug, Sigara striata, in freshwater food webs.

    PubMed

    Klecka, Jan

    2014-01-01

    Freshwater food webs are dominated by aquatic invertebrates whose trophic relationships are often poorly known. Here, I used laboratory experiments to study the role of a water bug, Sigara striata, as a potential predator and prey in food webs of stagnant waters. Multiple-choice predation experiment revealed that Sigara, which had been considered mostly herbivorous, also consumed larvae of Chironomus midges. Because they often occur in high densities and are among the most ubiquitous aquatic insects, Sigara water bugs may be important predators in fresh waters. A second experiment tested the role of Sigara as a potential prey for 13 common invertebrate predators. Mortality of Sigara inflicted by different predators varied widely, especially depending on body mass, foraging mode (ambush/searching) and feeding mode (chewing/suctorial) of the predators. Sigara was highly vulnerable to ambush predators, while searching predators caused on average 8.1 times lower mortality of Sigara. Additionally, suctorial predators consumed on average 6.6 times more Sigara individuals than chewing predators, which supports previous results hinting on potentially different predation pressures of these two types of predators on prey populations. The importance of these two foraging-related traits demonstrates the need to move from body mass based to multiple trait based descriptions of food web structure. Overall, the results suggests that detailed experimental studies of common but insufficiently known species can significantly enhance our understanding of food web structure. PMID:24883250

  5. Dams and downstream aquatic biodiversity: Potential food web consequences of hydrologic and geomorphic change

    SciTech Connect

    Power, M.E.; Dietrich, W.E.; Finlay, J.C.

    1996-11-01

    Responses of rivers and river ecosystems to dams are complex and varied, as they depend on local sediment supplies, geomorphic constraints, climate, dam structure and operation, and key attributes of the biota. Therefore, {open_quotes}one-size-fits-all{close_quotes} prescriptions cannot substitute for local knowledge in developing prescriptions for dam structure and operation to protect local biodiversity. One general principle is self-evident: that biodiversity is best protected in rivers where physical regimes are the most natural. A sufficiently natural regime of flow variation is particularly crucial for river biota and food webs. We review our research and that of others to illustrate the ecological importance of alternating periods of low an high flow, of periodic bed scour, and of floodplain inundation and dewatering. These fluctuations regulate both the life cycles of river biota and species interactions in the food webs that sustain them. Even if the focus of biodiversity conservation efforts is on a target species rather than whole ecosystems, a food web perspective is necessary, because populations of any species depend critically on how their resources, prey, and potential predators also respond to environmental change. In regulated rivers, managers must determine how the frequency, magnitude, and timing of hydrologic events interact to constrain or support species and food webs. Simple ecological modeling, tailored to local systems, may provide a framework and some insight into explaining ecosystem response to dams and should give direction to mitigation efforts. 78 refs.

  6. A new dimension: Evolutionary food web dynamics in two dimensional trait space.

    PubMed

    Ritterskamp, Daniel; Bearup, Daniel; Blasius, Bernd

    2016-09-21

    Species within a habitat are not uniformly distributed. However this aspect of community structure, which is fundamental to many conservation activities, is neglected in the majority of models of food web assembly. To address this issue, we introduce a model which incorporates a second dimension, which can be interpreted as space, into the trait space used in evolutionary food web models. Our results show that the additional trait axis allows the emergence of communities with a much greater range of network structures, similar to the diversity observed in real ecological communities. Moreover, the network properties of the food webs obtained are in good agreement with those of empirical food webs. Community emergence follows a consistent pattern with spread along the second trait axis occurring before the assembly of higher trophic levels. Communities can reach either a static final structure, or constantly evolve. We observe that the relative importance of competition and predation is a key determinant of the network structure and the evolutionary dynamics. The latter are driven by the interaction-competition and predation-between small groups of species. The model remains sufficiently simple that we are able to identify the factors, and mechanisms, which determine the final community state. PMID:27060671

  7. Seeking Emotional Involvement in Science Education: Food-Chains and Webs.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Alsop, Steve

    2001-01-01

    Documents a study of emotion in two grade 8 science classrooms. Describes a lesson on food-chains and webs designed with a conceptual and an emotional agenda. Discusses issues of emotion, sensation and relevance in science teaching. (Author/MM)

  8. A new dimension: Evolutionary food web dynamics in two dimensional trait space.

    PubMed

    Ritterskamp, Daniel; Bearup, Daniel; Blasius, Bernd

    2016-09-21

    Species within a habitat are not uniformly distributed. However this aspect of community structure, which is fundamental to many conservation activities, is neglected in the majority of models of food web assembly. To address this issue, we introduce a model which incorporates a second dimension, which can be interpreted as space, into the trait space used in evolutionary food web models. Our results show that the additional trait axis allows the emergence of communities with a much greater range of network structures, similar to the diversity observed in real ecological communities. Moreover, the network properties of the food webs obtained are in good agreement with those of empirical food webs. Community emergence follows a consistent pattern with spread along the second trait axis occurring before the assembly of higher trophic levels. Communities can reach either a static final structure, or constantly evolve. We observe that the relative importance of competition and predation is a key determinant of the network structure and the evolutionary dynamics. The latter are driven by the interaction-competition and predation-between small groups of species. The model remains sufficiently simple that we are able to identify the factors, and mechanisms, which determine the final community state.

  9. FOOD WEB STRUCTURE AS A POTENTIAL INDICATOR OF NUTRIENT ENRICHMENT IN GREAT LAKES COASTAL WETLANDS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Analyses of the food webs of Great Lakes coastal wetlands verify the role of algae as an energetic foundation, and also suggest that fundamental changes occur in response to both natural and anthropogenic influences. We analyzed coastal wetlands with a range of nutrient concentra...

  10. SHIFTS BETWEEN PERIPHYTON-AND PHYTOPLANKTON-BASED FOOD WEBS IN GREAT LAKES COASTAL WETLANDS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Numerous studies have revealed the importance of algae as an energetic base for wetland food webs. Earlier carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses in a Lake Superior coastal wetland (Allouez Bay, WI) indicated that, despite the large amount of vascular plant biobass present, ...

  11. BENTHIC PRODUCTION AS THE BASE FOR FOOD WEBS IN ALASKAN ARCTIC LAKES

    EPA Science Inventory

    Plankton are traditionally viewed as the basis for limnetic food webs, with zooplankton acting as an energy gateway between phytoplanktonic primary producers and fish. Often, benthic production is considered to be important primarily to the benthos and in shallow systems, such as...

  12. Compartments in a marine food web associated with phylogeny, body mass, and habitat structure.

    PubMed

    Rezende, Enrico L; Albert, Eva M; Fortuna, Miguel A; Bascompte, Jordi

    2009-08-01

    A long-standing question in community ecology is whether food webs are organized in compartments, where species within the same compartment interact frequently among themselves, but show fewer interactions with species from other compartments. Finding evidence for this community organization is important since compartmentalization may strongly affect food web robustness to perturbation. However, few studies have found unequivocal evidence of compartments, and none has quantified the suite of mechanisms generating such a structure. Here, we combine computational tools from the physics of complex networks with phylogenetic statistical methods to show that a large marine food web is organized in compartments, and that body size, phylogeny, and spatial structure are jointly associated with such a compartmentalized structure. Sharks account for the majority of predatory interactions within their compartments. Phylogenetically closely related shark species tend to occupy different compartments and have divergent trophic levels, suggesting that competition may play an important role structuring some of these compartments. Current overfishing of sharks has the potential to change the structural properties, which might eventually affect the stability of the food web.

  13. Effects of light reduction on food webs and associated ecosystem services of Yaquina Bay

    EPA Science Inventory

    Reduced water clarity can affect estuarine primary production but little is known of its subsequent effects to consumer guilds or ecosystem services. We investigated those effects using inverse analysis of modeled food webs of the lower (polyhaline) and upper (mesohaline) reache...

  14. Towards a mechanistic understanding of temperature and enrichment effects on species interaction strength, omnivory and food-web structure.

    PubMed

    Sentis, Arnaud; Hemptinne, Jean-Louis; Brodeur, Jacques

    2014-07-01

    Revealing the links between species functional traits, interaction strength and food-web structure is of paramount importance for understanding and predicting the relationships between food-web diversity and stability in a rapidly changing world. However, little is known about the interactive effects of environmental perturbations on individual species, trophic interactions and ecosystem functioning. Here, we combined modelling and laboratory experiments to investigate the effects of warming and enrichment on a terrestrial tritrophic system. We found that the food-web structure is highly variable and switches between exploitative competition and omnivory depending on the effects of temperature and enrichment on foraging behaviour and species interaction strength. Our model contributes to identifying the mechanisms that explain how environmental effects cascade through the food web and influence its topology. We conclude that considering environmental factors and flexible food-web structure is crucial to improve our ability to predict the impacts of global changes on ecosystem diversity and stability.

  15. Tracing organophosphorus and brominated flame retardants and plasticizers in an estuarine food web.

    PubMed

    Brandsma, Sicco H; Leonards, Pim E G; Leslie, Heather A; de Boer, Jacob

    2015-02-01

    Nine organophosphorus flame retardants (PFRs) were detected in a pelagic and benthic food web of the Western Scheldt estuary, The Netherlands. Concentrations of several PFRs were an order of magnitude higher than those of the brominated flame retardants (BFRs). However, the detection frequency of the PFRs (6-56%) was lower than that of the BFRs (50-97%). Tris(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBOEP), tris(isobutyl) phosphate (TIBP) and tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP) were the dominant PFRs in sediment with median concentrations of 7.0, 8.1 and 1.8 ng/g dry weight (dw), respectively. PFR levels in the suspended particular matter (SPM) were 2-12 times higher than that in sediment. TBOEP, TCIPP, TIBP, tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) and tris(phenyl) phosphate (TPHP) were found in organisms higher in the estuarine food web. The highest PFR concentrations in the benthic food web were found in sculpin, goby and lugworm with median concentrations of 17, 7.4, 4.6 and 2.0 ng/g wet weight (ww) for TBOEP, TIBP, TCIPP and TPHP, respectively. Comparable levels were observed in the pelagic food web, BDE209 was the predominant PBDE in sediment and SPM with median concentrations up to 9.7 and 385 ng/g dw, respectively. BDE47 was predominant in the biotic compartment of the food web with highest median levels observed in sculpin and common tern eggs of 79 ng/g lipid weight (lw) (2.5 ng/g ww) and 80 ng/g lw (11 ng/g ww), respectively. Trophic magnification was observed for all PBDEs with the exception of BDE209. Indications of trophic magnification of PFRs were observed in the benthic food web for TBOEP, TCIPP and TCEP with tentative trophic magnification factors of 3.5, 2.2 and 2.6, respectively (p<0.05). Most of the other PFRs showed trophic dilution in both food webs. The relative high PFR levels in several fish species suggest high emissions and substantial exposure of organisms to PFRs in the Western Scheldt.

  16. Reducing Methylmercury Accumulation in the Food Webs of San Francisco Bay and Its Local Watersheds

    PubMed Central

    Davis, J.A.; Looker, R.E.; Yee, D.; Marvin-DiPasquale, M.; Grenier, J.L.; Austin, C.M.; McKee, L.J.; Greenfield, B.K.; Brodberg, R.; Blum, J.D.

    2013-01-01

    San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on the most promising avenues for attempting to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) contamination in Bay Area aquatic food webs and identifying the scientific information that is most urgently needed to support these efforts. Concern for human exposure to MeHg in the region has led to advisories for consumption of sport fish. Striped bass from the Bay have the highest average Hg concentration measured for this species in USA estuaries, and this degree of contamination has been constant for the past 40 years. Similarly, largemouth bass in some Bay Area reservoirs have some of the highest Hg concentrations observed in the entire US. Bay Area wildlife, particularly birds, face potential impacts to reproduction based on Hg concentrations in the tissues of several Bay species. Source control of Hg is one of the primary possible approaches for reducing MeHg accumulation in Bay Area aquatic food webs. Recent findings (particularly Hg isotope measurements) indicate that the decades-long residence time of particle-associated Hg in the Bay is sufficient to allow significant conversion of even the insoluble forms of Hg into MeHg. Past inputs have been thoroughly mixed throughout this shallow and dynamic estuary. The large pool of Hg already present in the ecosystem dominates the fraction converted to MeHg and accumulating in the food web. Consequently, decreasing external Hg inputs can be expected to reduce MeHg in the food web, but it will likely take many decades to centuries before those reductions are achieved. Extensive efforts to reduce loads from the largest Hg mining source (the historic New Almaden mining district) are underway. Hg is spread widely across the urban landscape, but there are a number of key sources, source areas, and pathways that provide opportunities to capture larger quantities of Hg and reduce loads

  17. Nearshore energy subsidies support Lake Michigan fishes and invertebrates following major changes in food web structure

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Turschak, Benjamin A; Bunnell, David B.; Czesny, Sergiusz J.; Höök, Tomas O.; Janssen, John; Warner, David M.; Bootsma, Harvey A

    2014-01-01

    Aquatic food webs that incorporate multiple energy channels (e.g. nearshore benthic or pelagic) with varying productivity and turnover rates convey stability to biological communities by providing multiple independent energy sources. Within the Lake Michigan food web, invasive dreissenid mussels have caused rapid changes to food web structure and potentially altered the channels through which consumers acquire energy. We used stable C and N isotopes to determine how Lake Michigan food web structure has changed in the past decade, coincident with the expansion of dreissenid mussels, decreased pelagic phytoplankton production and increased nearshore benthic algal production. Fish and invertebrate samples collected from sites around Lake Michigan were analyzed to determine taxa-specific 13C:12C (delta 13C) and 15N:14N (delta 15N) ratios. Sampling took place during two distinct periods, 2002-2003 and 2010-2012, that spanned the period of dreissenid expansion, and included nearshore, pelagic and profundal fish and invertebrate taxa. Magnitude and direction of the 13C shift indicated significantly greater reliance upon nearshore benthic energy sources among nearly all fish taxa as well as profundal invertebrates. Although the mechanisms underlying this 13C shift likely varied among species, possible causes include the transport of benthic algal production to offshore waters and an increased reliance on nearshore prey items. Delta 15N shifts were more variable and of smaller magnitude across taxa although declines in delta 15N among some pelagic fishes may indicate a shift to alternative prey resources. Lake Michigan fishes and invertebrates appear to have responded to dreissenid induced changes in nutrient and energy pathways by switching from pelagic to alternative nearshore energy subsidies. Although large shifts in energy allocation (i.e. pelagic to nearshore benthic) resulting from invasive species appear to have affected total production at upper trophic

  18. Use of an integrated mercury food web model for ecological risk assessment.

    PubMed

    Hunter, John G; Burger, Joanna; Cooper, Keith R

    2003-07-01

    We developed an integrated food web model for mercury, using the CATS (Contaminants in Aquatic and Terrestrial ecoSytems) model developed by Traas and co-workers (Traas, T.P.; Stäb, J.A.; Kramer, P.R.G.; Cofino, W.P.; Aldenberg, T. Modeling and risk assessment of tributyltin accumulation in the food web of a shallow freshwater lake. Environ. Sci. Technol. 1996, 30 (4), 1227-1237). It was translated into the MatLab mathematical programming language and been adapted for the modeling of mercury. Mercury CATS now models four species of mercury (unreactive mercury, zero valent mercury, divalent mercury, and methylmercury) and their environmental and interactions using the mercury speciation kinetics model article by Bale (Bale, A.E. Modeling aquatic mercury fate in Clear Lake, Calif. J. Env. Eng. 2000, 126 (2), 153-163.) as a guideline. The mercury cycling kinetics include methylation of divalent mercury, photo-oxidation of zero valent mercury, reduction of divalent mercury, adsorption and desorption of divalent and methylmercury, volatilization of zero valent mercury, and uptake into the food web. A lake food web consisting of phytoplankton, rooted vegetation, zooplankton, crayfish, freshwater clams, amphipods, chironomids, eels, killifish, bass, and ospreys traces growth of the various compartments, uptake of both divalent and methylmercury, and the movement of both divalent and methylmercury through the food web via feeding relationships. This model design is sufficiently flexible that the incorporation of new scientific information can be easily done as our understanding of both the organisms and mercury's environmental chemistry increases. PMID:12916846

  19. Nearshore energy subsidies support Lake Michigan fishes and invertebrates following major changes in food web structure.

    PubMed

    Turschak, Benjamin A; Bunnell, David; Czesny, Sergiusz; Höök, Tomas O; Janssen, John; Warner, David; Bootsma, Harvey A

    2014-05-01

    Aquatic food webs that incorporate multiple energy channels (e.g., nearshore benthic and pelagic) with varying productivity and turnover rates convey stability to biological communities by providing independent energy sources. Within the Lake Michigan food web, invasive dreissenid mussels have caused rapid changes to food web structure and potentially altered the channels through which consumers acquire energy. We used stable C and N isotopes to determine how Lake Michigan food web structure has changed in the past decade, coincident with the expansion of dreissenid mussels, decreased pelagic phytoplankton production, and increased nearshore benthic algal production. Fish and invertebrate samples collected from sites around Lake Michigan were analyzed to determine taxa-specific 13C:12C (delta13C) and 15N:14N (delta15N) ratios. Sampling took place during two distinct periods, 2002-2003 and 2010-2012, that spanned the period of dreissenid expansion, and included nearshore, pelagic and profundal fish and invertebrate taxa. The magnitude and direction of the delta13C shift indicated significantly greater reliance upon nearshore benthic energy sources among nearly all fish taxa as well as profundal invertebrates following dreissenid expansion. Although the mechanisms underlying this delta13C shift likely varied among species, possible causes include the transport of benthic algal production to offshore waters and increased feeding on nearshore prey items by pelagic and profundal species. delta15N shifts were more variable and of smaller magnitude across taxa, although declines in delta15N among some pelagic fishes suggest a shift to alternative prey resources. Lake Michigan fishes and invertebrates appear to have responded to dreissenid-induced changes in nutrient and energy pathways by switching from pelagic to alternative nearshore energy subsidies. Although large shifts in energy allocation (i.e., pelagic to nearshore benthic) resulting from invasive species appear

  20. Hydrogeomorphic features mediate the effects of land use/cover on reservoir productivity and food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bremigan, M.T.; Soranno, P.A.; Gonzalez, M.J.; Bunnell, D.B.; Arend, K.K.; Renwick, W.H.; Stein, R.A.; Vanni, M.J.

    2008-01-01

    Although effects of land use/cover on nutrient concentrations in aquatic systems are well known, half or more of the variation in nutrient concentration remains unexplained by land use/cover alone. Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) landscape features can explain much remaining variation and influence food web interactions. To explore complex linkages among land use/cover, HGM features, reservoir productivity, and food webs, we sampled 11 Ohio reservoirs, ranging broadly in agricultural catchment land use/cover, for 3 years. We hypothesized that HGM features mediate the bottom-up effects of land use/cover on reservoir productivity, chlorophyll a, zooplankton, and recruitment of gizzard shad, an omnivorous fish species common throughout southeastern U.S. reservoirs and capable of exerting strong effects on food web and nutrient dynamics. We tested specific hypotheses using a model selection approach. Percent variation explained was highest for total nitrogen (R2 = 0.92), moderately high for total phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and rotifer biomass (R2 = 0.57 to 0.67), relatively low for crustacean zooplankton biomass and larval gizzard shad hatch abundance (R2 = 0.43 and 0.42), and high for larval gizzard shad survivor abundance (R2 = 0.79). The trophic status models included agricultural land use/cover and an HGM predictor, whereas the zooplankton models had few HGM predictors. The larval gizzard shad models had the highest complexity, including more than one HGM feature and food web components. We demonstrate the importance of integrating land use/cover, HGM features, and food web interactions to investigate critical interactions and feedbacks among physical, chemical, and biological components of linked land-water ecosystems.

  1. Automated Discovery of Food Webs from Ecological Data Using Logic-Based Machine Learning

    PubMed Central

    Bohan, David A.; Caron-Lormier, Geoffrey; Muggleton, Stephen; Raybould, Alan; Tamaddoni-Nezhad, Alireza

    2011-01-01

    Networks of trophic links (food webs) are used to describe and understand mechanistic routes for translocation of energy (biomass) between species. However, a relatively low proportion of ecosystems have been studied using food web approaches due to difficulties in making observations on large numbers of species. In this paper we demonstrate that Machine Learning of food webs, using a logic-based approach called A/ILP, can generate plausible and testable food webs from field sample data. Our example data come from a national-scale Vortis suction sampling of invertebrates from arable fields in Great Britain. We found that 45 invertebrate species or taxa, representing approximately 25% of the sample and about 74% of the invertebrate individuals included in the learning, were hypothesized to be linked. As might be expected, detritivore Collembola were consistently the most important prey. Generalist and omnivorous carabid beetles were hypothesized to be the dominant predators of the system. We were, however, surprised by the importance of carabid larvae suggested by the machine learning as predators of a wide variety of prey. High probability links were hypothesized for widespread, potentially destabilizing, intra-guild predation; predictions that could be experimentally tested. Many of the high probability links in the model have already been observed or suggested for this system, supporting our contention that A/ILP learning can produce plausible food webs from sample data, independent of our preconceptions about “who eats whom.” Well-characterised links in the literature correspond with links ascribed with high probability through A/ILP. We believe that this very general Machine Learning approach has great power and could be used to extend and test our current theories of agricultural ecosystem dynamics and function. In particular, we believe it could be used to support the development of a wider theory of ecosystem responses to environmental change. PMID

  2. Biochemical tracers reveal intra-specific differences in the food webs utilized by individual seabirds.

    PubMed

    Hebert, Craig E; Weseloh, D V Chip; Gauthier, Lewis T; Arts, Michael T; Letcher, Robert J

    2009-05-01

    Food web structure regulates the pathways and flow rates of energy, nutrients, and contaminants to top predators. Ecologically and physiologically meaningful biochemical tracers provide a means to characterize and quantify these transfers within food webs. In this study, changes in the ratios of stable N isotopes (e.g., delta(15)N), fatty acids (FA), and persistent contaminants were used to trace food web pathways utilized by herring gulls (Larus argentatus) breeding along the shores of the St Lawrence River, Canada. Egg delta(15)N values varied significantly among years and were used as an indicator of gull trophic position. Temporal trends in egg delta(15)N values were related to egg FA profiles. In years when egg delta(15)N values were greater, egg FA patterns reflected the consumption of more aquatic prey. Egg delta(15)N values were also correlated with annual estimates of prey fish abundance. These results indicated that temporal changes in aquatic prey availability were reflected in the gull diet (as inferred from ecological tracer profiles in gull eggs). Analysis of individual eggs within years confirmed that birds consuming more aquatic prey occupied higher trophic positions. Furthermore, increases in trophic position were associated with increased concentrations of most persistent organic contaminants in eggs. However, levels of highly brominated polybrominated diphenyl ether congeners, e.g, 2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5',6,6'-decabromoDE (BDE-209), showed a negative relationship with trophic position. These contrasting findings reflected differences among contaminant groups/homologs in terms of their predominant routes of transfer, i.e., aquatic versus terrestrial food webs. High trophic level omnivores, e.g., herring gulls, are common in food webs. By characterizing ecological tracer profiles in such species we can better understand spatial, temporal, and individual differences in pathways of contaminant, energy, and nutrient flow.

  3. Food-web structure in relation to environmental gradients and predator-prey ratios in tank-bromeliad ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Dézerald, Olivier; Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Carrias, Jean-François; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2013-01-01

    Little is known of how linkage patterns between species change along environmental gradients. The small, spatially discrete food webs inhabiting tank-bromeliads provide an excellent opportunity to analyse patterns of community diversity and food-web topology (connectance, linkage density, nestedness) in relation to key environmental variables (habitat size, detrital resource, incident radiation) and predators:prey ratios. We sampled 365 bromeliads in a wide range of understorey environments in French Guiana and used gut contents of invertebrates to draw the corresponding 365 connectance webs. At the bromeliad scale, habitat size (water volume) determined the number of species that constitute food-web nodes, the proportion of predators, and food-web topology. The number of species as well as the proportion of predators within bromeliads declined from open to forested habitats, where the volume of water collected by bromeliads was generally lower because of rainfall interception by the canopy. A core group of microorganisms and generalist detritivores remained relatively constant across environments. This suggests that (i) a highly-connected core ensures food-web stability and key ecosystem functions across environments, and (ii) larger deviations in food-web structures can be expected following disturbance if detritivores share traits that determine responses to environmental changes. While linkage density and nestedness were lower in bromeliads in the forest than in open areas, experiments are needed to confirm a trend for lower food-web stability in the understorey of primary forests.

  4. Food-Web Structure in Relation to Environmental Gradients and Predator-Prey Ratios in Tank-Bromeliad Ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Dézerald, Olivier; Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Carrias, Jean-François; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2013-01-01

    Little is known of how linkage patterns between species change along environmental gradients. The small, spatially discrete food webs inhabiting tank-bromeliads provide an excellent opportunity to analyse patterns of community diversity and food-web topology (connectance, linkage density, nestedness) in relation to key environmental variables (habitat size, detrital resource, incident radiation) and predators:prey ratios. We sampled 365 bromeliads in a wide range of understorey environments in French Guiana and used gut contents of invertebrates to draw the corresponding 365 connectance webs. At the bromeliad scale, habitat size (water volume) determined the number of species that constitute food-web nodes, the proportion of predators, and food-web topology. The number of species as well as the proportion of predators within bromeliads declined from open to forested habitats, where the volume of water collected by bromeliads was generally lower because of rainfall interception by the canopy. A core group of microorganisms and generalist detritivores remained relatively constant across environments. This suggests that (i) a highly-connected core ensures food-web stability and key ecosystem functions across environments, and (ii) larger deviations in food-web structures can be expected following disturbance if detritivores share traits that determine responses to environmental changes. While linkage density and nestedness were lower in bromeliads in the forest than in open areas, experiments are needed to confirm a trend for lower food-web stability in the understorey of primary forests. PMID:23977128

  5. Food-web structure in relation to environmental gradients and predator-prey ratios in tank-bromeliad ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Dézerald, Olivier; Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Carrias, Jean-François; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2013-01-01

    Little is known of how linkage patterns between species change along environmental gradients. The small, spatially discrete food webs inhabiting tank-bromeliads provide an excellent opportunity to analyse patterns of community diversity and food-web topology (connectance, linkage density, nestedness) in relation to key environmental variables (habitat size, detrital resource, incident radiation) and predators:prey ratios. We sampled 365 bromeliads in a wide range of understorey environments in French Guiana and used gut contents of invertebrates to draw the corresponding 365 connectance webs. At the bromeliad scale, habitat size (water volume) determined the number of species that constitute food-web nodes, the proportion of predators, and food-web topology. The number of species as well as the proportion of predators within bromeliads declined from open to forested habitats, where the volume of water collected by bromeliads was generally lower because of rainfall interception by the canopy. A core group of microorganisms and generalist detritivores remained relatively constant across environments. This suggests that (i) a highly-connected core ensures food-web stability and key ecosystem functions across environments, and (ii) larger deviations in food-web structures can be expected following disturbance if detritivores share traits that determine responses to environmental changes. While linkage density and nestedness were lower in bromeliads in the forest than in open areas, experiments are needed to confirm a trend for lower food-web stability in the understorey of primary forests. PMID:23977128

  6. Protozoan pulses unveil their pivotal position within the soil food web.

    PubMed

    Crotty, Felicity V; Adl, Sina M; Blackshaw, Rod P; Murray, Philip J

    2012-05-01

    Protozoa are one of the most abundant groups of bacterivores within the soil and are responsible for mineralisation of bacterial biomass, having a large impact on C and N cycling. Little is known of their contribution to soil nutrient transfers or the identity of their consumers. Here, for the first time indigenous flagellates and ciliates, enriched to 83 atom% for (13)C and 10 atom% for (15)N, were introduced to soil cores from two different land managements, grassland and woodland with the same soil type, to trace the flow of protozoan C and N through the soil food web. Nematodes, Collembola, earthworms and insect larvae obtained the greatest amounts of C and N of protozoan origin, either through direct consumption or uptake of biomass post-cell death. Our results show that changes in management, affect the functioning of the soil food web and the utilisation of protozoa as a food source.

  7. Interaction strength combinations and the overfishing of a marine food web.

    PubMed

    Bascompte, Jordi; Melián, Carlos J; Sala, Enric

    2005-04-12

    The stability of ecological communities largely depends on the strength of interactions between predators and their prey. Here we show that these interaction strengths are structured nonrandomly in a large Caribbean marine food web. Specifically, the cooccurrence of strong interactions on two consecutive levels of food chains occurs less frequently than expected by chance. Even when they occur, these strongly interacting chains are accompanied by strong omnivory more often than expected by chance. By using a food web model, we show that these interaction strength combinations reduce the likelihood of trophic cascades after the overfishing of top predators. However, fishing selectively removes predators that are overrepresented in strongly interacting chains. Hence, the potential for strong community-wide effects remains a threat.

  8. The role of ammonites in the Mesozoic marine food web revealed by jaw preservation.

    PubMed

    Kruta, Isabelle; Landman, Neil; Rouget, Isabelle; Cecca, Fabrizio; Tafforeau, Paul

    2011-01-01

    Ammonites are prominent in macroevolutionary studies because of their abundance and diversity in the fossil record, but their paleobiology and position in the marine food web are not well understood due to the lack of preserved soft tissue. We present three-dimensional reconstructions of the buccal apparatus in the Mesozoic ammonite Baculites with the use of synchrotron x-ray microtomography. Buccal mass morphology, combined with the coexistence of food remains found in the buccal mass, suggests that these ammonites fed on plankton. This diet may have extended to all aptychophoran ammonites, which share the same buccal mass morphology. Understanding the role of these ammonites in the Mesozoic food web provides insights into their radiation in the Early Jurassic, as well as their extinction at the end of the Cretaceous/early Paleogene.

  9. Chemolithoautotrophy supports macroinvertebrate food webs and affects diversity and stability in groundwater communities.

    PubMed

    Hutchins, Benjamin T; Engel, Annette Summers; Nowlin, Weston H; Schwartz, Benjamin F

    2016-06-01

    The prevailing paradigm in subterranean ecology is that below-ground food webs are simple, limited to one or two trophic levels, and composed of generalist species because of spatio-temporally patchy food resources and pervasive energy limitation. This paradigm is based on relatively few studies of easily accessible, air-filled caves. However, in some subterranean ecosystems, chemolithoautotrophy can subsidize or replace surface-based allochthonous inputs of photosynthetically derived organic matter (OM) as a basal food resource and promote niche specialization and evolution of higher trophic levels. Consequently, the current subterranean trophic paradigm fails to account for variation in resources, trophic specialization, and food chain length in some subterranean ecosystems. We reevaluated the subterranean food web paradigm by examining spatial variation in the isotopic composition of basal food resources and consumers, food web structure, stygobiont species diversity, and chromophoric organic matter (CDOM), across a geochemical gradient in a large and complex groundwater system, the Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas (USA). Mean δ13C values of stygobiont communities become increasingly more negative along the gradient of photosynthetic OM sources near the aquifer recharge zone to chemolithoautotrophic OM sources closer to the freshwater-saline water interface (FWSWI) between oxygenated freshwater and anoxic, sulfide-rich saline water. Stygobiont community species richness declined with increasing distance from the FWSWI. Bayesian mixing models were used to estimate the relative importance of photosynthetic OM and chemolithoautorophic OM for stygobiont communities at three biogeochemically distinct sites. The contribution of chemolithoautotrophic OM to consumers at these sites ranged between 25% and 69% of total OM utilized and comprised as much as 88% of the diet for one species. In addition, the food web adjacent to the FWSWI had greater trophic diversity when

  10. Chemolithoautotrophy supports macroinvertebrate food webs and affects diversity and stability in groundwater communities.

    PubMed

    Hutchins, Benjamin T; Engel, Annette Summers; Nowlin, Weston H; Schwartz, Benjamin F

    2016-06-01

    The prevailing paradigm in subterranean ecology is that below-ground food webs are simple, limited to one or two trophic levels, and composed of generalist species because of spatio-temporally patchy food resources and pervasive energy limitation. This paradigm is based on relatively few studies of easily accessible, air-filled caves. However, in some subterranean ecosystems, chemolithoautotrophy can subsidize or replace surface-based allochthonous inputs of photosynthetically derived organic matter (OM) as a basal food resource and promote niche specialization and evolution of higher trophic levels. Consequently, the current subterranean trophic paradigm fails to account for variation in resources, trophic specialization, and food chain length in some subterranean ecosystems. We reevaluated the subterranean food web paradigm by examining spatial variation in the isotopic composition of basal food resources and consumers, food web structure, stygobiont species diversity, and chromophoric organic matter (CDOM), across a geochemical gradient in a large and complex groundwater system, the Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas (USA). Mean δ13C values of stygobiont communities become increasingly more negative along the gradient of photosynthetic OM sources near the aquifer recharge zone to chemolithoautotrophic OM sources closer to the freshwater-saline water interface (FWSWI) between oxygenated freshwater and anoxic, sulfide-rich saline water. Stygobiont community species richness declined with increasing distance from the FWSWI. Bayesian mixing models were used to estimate the relative importance of photosynthetic OM and chemolithoautorophic OM for stygobiont communities at three biogeochemically distinct sites. The contribution of chemolithoautotrophic OM to consumers at these sites ranged between 25% and 69% of total OM utilized and comprised as much as 88% of the diet for one species. In addition, the food web adjacent to the FWSWI had greater trophic diversity when

  11. Food web structure in exotic and native mangroves: a Hawaii-Puerto Rico comparison.

    PubMed

    Demopoulos, Amanda W J; Fry, Brian; Smith, Craig R

    2007-09-01

    Plant invasions can fundamentally alter detrital inputs and the structure of detritus-based food webs. We examined the detrital pathways in mangrove food webs in native (Puerto Rican) and introduced (Hawaiian) Rhizophora mangle forests using a dual isotope approach and a mixing model. Based on trophic-level fractionation of 0-1 per thousand for delta(13)C and 2-3 per thousand for delta(15)N, among the invertebrates, only nematodes, oligochaetes, and nereid polychaetes from native mangroves exhibited stable isotopes consistent with a mangrove-derived diet. Certain fauna, in particular tubificid oligochaetes, had delta(13)C values consistent with the consumption of mangrove leaves, but they were depleted in (15)N, suggesting their primary nitrogen source was low in (15)N, and was possibly N(2)-fixing bacteria. In introduced mangroves, all feeding groups appeared to rely heavily on non-mangrove sources, especially phytoplankton inputs. Mixing model results and discriminant analysis showed clear separation of introduced and native mangrove sites based on differential food source utilization within feeding groups, with stronger and more diverse use of benthic foods observed in native forests. Observed differences between native and invasive mangrove food webs may be due to Hawaiian detritivores being poorly adapted to utilizing the tannin-rich, nitrogen-poor mangrove detritus. In addition, differential utilization of mangrove detritus between native and introduced mangroves may be a consequence of forest age. We postulate that increasing mangrove forest age may promote diversification of bacterial food webs important in N and S cycling. Our results also suggest a potentially important role for sulfur bacteria in supporting the most abundant infaunal consumers, nematodes, in the most mature systems. PMID:17587064

  12. Food web structure in exotic and native mangroves: A Hawaii-Puerto Rico comparison

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Demopoulos, A.W.J.; Fry, B.; Smith, C.R.

    2007-01-01

    Plant invasions can fundamentally alter detrital inputs and the structure of detritus-based food webs. We examined the detrital pathways in mangrove food webs in native (Puerto Rican) and introduced (Hawaiian) Rhizophora mangle forests using a dual isotope approach and a mixing model. Based on trophic-level fractionation of 0-1??? for ?? 13C and 2-3??? for ?? 15N, among the invertebrates, only nematodes, oligochaetes, and nereid polychaetes from native mangroves exhibited stable isotopes consistent with a mangrove-derived diet. Certain fauna, in particular tubificid oligochaetes, had ?? 13C values consistent with the consumption of mangrove leaves, but they were depleted in 15N, suggesting their primary nitrogen source was low in 15N, and was possibly N 2-fixing bacteria. In introduced mangroves, all feeding groups appeared to rely heavily on non-mangrove sources, especially phytoplankton inputs. Mixing model results and discriminant analysis showed clear separation of introduced and native mangrove sites based on differential food source utilization within feeding groups, with stronger and more diverse use of benthic foods observed in native forests. Observed differences between native and invasive mangrove food webs may be due to Hawaiian detritivores being poorly adapted to utilizing the tannin-rich, nitrogen-poor mangrove detritus. In addition, differential utilization of mangrove detritus between native and introduced mangroves may be a consequence of forest age. We postulate that increasing mangrove forest age may promote diversification of bacterial food webs important in N and S cycling. Our results also suggest a potentially important role for sulfur bacteria in supporting the most abundant infaunal consumers, nematodes, in the most mature systems. ?? 2007 Springer-Verlag.

  13. Simple prediction of interaction strengths in complex food webs

    PubMed Central

    Berlow, Eric L.; Dunne, Jennifer A.; Martinez, Neo D.; Stark, Philip B.; Williams, Richard J.; Brose, Ulrich

    2009-01-01

    Darwin's classic image of an “entangled bank” of interdependencies among species has long suggested that it is difficult to predict how the loss of one species affects the abundance of others. We show that for dynamical models of realistically structured ecological networks in which pair-wise consumer-resource interactions allometrically scale to the ¾ power—as suggested by metabolic theory—the effect of losing one species on another can be predicted well by simple functions of variables easily observed in nature. By systematically removing individual species from 600 networks ranging from 10–30 species, we analyzed how the strength of 254,032 possible pair-wise species interactions depended on 90 stochastically varied species, link, and network attributes. We found that the interaction strength between a pair of species is predicted well by simple functions of the two species' biomasses and the body mass of the species removed. On average, prediction accuracy increases with network size, suggesting that greater web complexity simplifies predicting interaction strengths. Applied to field data, our model successfully predicts interactions dominated by trophic effects and illuminates the sign and magnitude of important nontrophic interactions. PMID:19114659

  14. River Food Web Response to Large-Scale Riparian Zone Manipulations

    PubMed Central

    Wootton, J. Timothy

    2012-01-01

    Conservation programs often focus on select species, leading to management plans based on the autecology of the focal species, but multiple ecosystem components can be affected both by the environmental factors impacting, and the management targeting, focal species. These broader effects can have indirect impacts on target species through the web of interactions within ecosystems. For example, human activity can strongly alter riparian vegetation, potentially impacting both economically-important salmonids and their associated river food web. In an Olympic Peninsula river, Washington state, USA, replicated large-scale riparian vegetation manipulations implemented with the long-term (>40 yr) goal of improving salmon habitat did not affect water temperature, nutrient limitation or habitat characteristics, but reduced canopy cover, causing reduced energy input via leaf litter, increased incident solar radiation (UV and PAR) and increased algal production compared to controls. In response, benthic algae, most insect taxa, and juvenile salmonids increased in manipulated areas. Stable isotope analysis revealed a predominant contribution of algal-derived energy to salmonid diets in manipulated reaches. The experiment demonstrates that riparian management targeting salmonids strongly affects river food webs via changes in the energy base, illustrates how species-based management strategies can have unanticipated indirect effects on the target species via the associated food web, and supports ecosystem-based management approaches for restoring depleted salmonid stocks. PMID:23284786

  15. From projected species distribution to food-web structure under climate change.

    PubMed

    Albouy, Camille; Velez, Laure; Coll, Marta; Colloca, Francesco; Le Loc'h, François; Mouillot, David; Gravel, Dominique

    2014-03-01

    Climate change is inducing deep modifications in species geographic ranges worldwide. However, the consequences of such changes on community structure are still poorly understood, particularly the impacts on food-web properties. Here, we propose a new framework, coupling species distribution and trophic models, to predict climate change impacts on food-web structure across the Mediterranean Sea. Sea surface temperature was used to determine the fish climate niches and their future distributions. Body size was used to infer trophic interactions between fish species. Our projections reveal that 54 fish species of 256 endemic and native species included in our analysis would disappear by 2080-2099 from the Mediterranean continental shelf. The number of feeding links between fish species would decrease on 73.4% of the continental shelf. However, the connectance of the overall fish web would increase on average, from 0.26 to 0.29, mainly due to a differential loss rate of feeding links and species richness. This result masks a systematic decrease in predator generality, estimated here as the number of prey species, from 30.0 to 25.4. Therefore, our study highlights large-scale impacts of climate change on marine food-web structure with potential deep consequences on ecosystem functioning. However, these impacts will likely be highly heterogeneous in space, challenging our current understanding of climate change impact on local marine ecosystems.

  16. River food web response to large-scale riparian zone manipulations.

    PubMed

    Wootton, J Timothy

    2012-01-01

    Conservation programs often focus on select species, leading to management plans based on the autecology of the focal species, but multiple ecosystem components can be affected both by the environmental factors impacting, and the management targeting, focal species. These broader effects can have indirect impacts on target species through the web of interactions within ecosystems. For example, human activity can strongly alter riparian vegetation, potentially impacting both economically-important salmonids and their associated river food web. In an Olympic Peninsula river, Washington state, USA, replicated large-scale riparian vegetation manipulations implemented with the long-term (>40 yr) goal of improving salmon habitat did not affect water temperature, nutrient limitation or habitat characteristics, but reduced canopy cover, causing reduced energy input via leaf litter, increased incident solar radiation (UV and PAR) and increased algal production compared to controls. In response, benthic algae, most insect taxa, and juvenile salmonids increased in manipulated areas. Stable isotope analysis revealed a predominant contribution of algal-derived energy to salmonid diets in manipulated reaches. The experiment demonstrates that riparian management targeting salmonids strongly affects river food webs via changes in the energy base, illustrates how species-based management strategies can have unanticipated indirect effects on the target species via the associated food web, and supports ecosystem-based management approaches for restoring depleted salmonid stocks.

  17. River food web response to large-scale riparian zone manipulations.

    PubMed

    Wootton, J Timothy

    2012-01-01

    Conservation programs often focus on select species, leading to management plans based on the autecology of the focal species, but multiple ecosystem components can be affected both by the environmental factors impacting, and the management targeting, focal species. These broader effects can have indirect impacts on target species through the web of interactions within ecosystems. For example, human activity can strongly alter riparian vegetation, potentially impacting both economically-important salmonids and their associated river food web. In an Olympic Peninsula river, Washington state, USA, replicated large-scale riparian vegetation manipulations implemented with the long-term (>40 yr) goal of improving salmon habitat did not affect water temperature, nutrient limitation or habitat characteristics, but reduced canopy cover, causing reduced energy input via leaf litter, increased incident solar radiation (UV and PAR) and increased algal production compared to controls. In response, benthic algae, most insect taxa, and juvenile salmonids increased in manipulated areas. Stable isotope analysis revealed a predominant contribution of algal-derived energy to salmonid diets in manipulated reaches. The experiment demonstrates that riparian management targeting salmonids strongly affects river food webs via changes in the energy base, illustrates how species-based management strategies can have unanticipated indirect effects on the target species via the associated food web, and supports ecosystem-based management approaches for restoring depleted salmonid stocks. PMID:23284786

  18. Reducing methylmercury accumulation in the food webs of San Francisco Bay and its local watersheds.

    PubMed

    Davis, J A; Looker, R E; Yee, D; Marvin-Di Pasquale, M; Grenier, J L; Austin, C M; McKee, L J; Greenfield, B K; Brodberg, R; Blum, J D

    2012-11-01

    San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on the most promising avenues for attempting to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) contamination in Bay Area aquatic food webs and identifying the scientific information that is most urgently needed to support these efforts. Concern for human exposure to MeHg in the region has led to advisories for consumption of sport fish. Striped bass from the Bay have the highest average Hg concentration measured for this species in USA estuaries, and this degree of contamination has been constant for the past 40 years. Similarly, largemouth bass in some Bay Area reservoirs have some of the highest Hg concentrations observed in the entire US. Bay Area wildlife, particularly birds, face potential impacts to reproduction based on Hg concentrations in the tissues of several Bay species. Source control of Hg is one of the primary possible approaches for reducing MeHg accumulation in Bay Area aquatic food webs. Recent findings (particularly Hg isotope measurements) indicate that the decades-long residence time of particle-associated Hg in the Bay is sufficient to allow significant conversion of even the insoluble forms of Hg into MeHg. Past inputs have been thoroughly mixed throughout this shallow and dynamic estuary. The large pool of Hg already present in the ecosystem dominates the fraction converted to MeHg and accumulating in the food web. Consequently, decreasing external Hg inputs can be expected to reduce MeHg in the food web, but it will likely take many decades to centuries before those reductions are achieved. Extensive efforts to reduce loads from the largest Hg mining source (the historic New Almaden mining district) are underway. Hg is spread widely across the urban landscape, but there are a number of key sources, source areas, and pathways that provide opportunities to capture larger quantities of Hg and reduce loads

  19. Reducing methylmercury accumulation in the food webs of San Francisco Bay and its local watersheds

    SciTech Connect

    Davis, J.A.; Looker, R.E.; Yee, D.; Marvin-Di Pasquale, M.; Austin, C.M.; McKee, L.J.; Greenfield, B.K.; Brodberg, R.; Blum, J.D.

    2012-11-15

    San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on the most promising avenues for attempting to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) contamination in Bay Area aquatic food webs and identifying the scientific information that is most urgently needed to support these efforts. Concern for human exposure to MeHg in the region has led to advisories for consumption of sport fish. Striped bass from the Bay have the highest average Hg concentration measured for this species in USA estuaries, and this degree of contamination has been constant for the past 40 years. Similarly, largemouth bass in some Bay Area reservoirs have some of the highest Hg concentrations observed in the entire US. Bay Area wildlife, particularly birds, face potential impacts to reproduction based on Hg concentrations in the tissues of several Bay species. Source control of Hg is one of the primary possible approaches for reducing MeHg accumulation in Bay Area aquatic food webs. Recent findings (particularly Hg isotope measurements) indicate that the decades-long residence time of particle-associated Hg in the Bay is sufficient to allow significant conversion of even the insoluble forms of Hg into MeHg. Past inputs have been thoroughly mixed throughout this shallow and dynamic estuary. The large pool of Hg already present in the ecosystem dominates the fraction converted to MeHg and accumulating in the food web. Consequently, decreasing external Hg inputs can be expected to reduce MeHg in the food web, but it will likely take many decades to centuries before those reductions are achieved. Extensive efforts to reduce loads from the largest Hg mining source (the historic New Almaden mining district) are underway. Hg is spread widely across the urban landscape, but there are a number of key sources, source areas, and pathways that provide opportunities to capture larger quantities of Hg and reduce loads

  20. Reducing methylmercury accumulation in the food webs of San Francisco Bay and its local watersheds.

    PubMed

    Davis, J A; Looker, R E; Yee, D; Marvin-Di Pasquale, M; Grenier, J L; Austin, C M; McKee, L J; Greenfield, B K; Brodberg, R; Blum, J D

    2012-11-01

    San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on the most promising avenues for attempting to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) contamination in Bay Area aquatic food webs and identifying the scientific information that is most urgently needed to support these efforts. Concern for human exposure to MeHg in the region has led to advisories for consumption of sport fish. Striped bass from the Bay have the highest average Hg concentration measured for this species in USA estuaries, and this degree of contamination has been constant for the past 40 years. Similarly, largemouth bass in some Bay Area reservoirs have some of the highest Hg concentrations observed in the entire US. Bay Area wildlife, particularly birds, face potential impacts to reproduction based on Hg concentrations in the tissues of several Bay species. Source control of Hg is one of the primary possible approaches for reducing MeHg accumulation in Bay Area aquatic food webs. Recent findings (particularly Hg isotope measurements) indicate that the decades-long residence time of particle-associated Hg in the Bay is sufficient to allow significant conversion of even the insoluble forms of Hg into MeHg. Past inputs have been thoroughly mixed throughout this shallow and dynamic estuary. The large pool of Hg already present in the ecosystem dominates the fraction converted to MeHg and accumulating in the food web. Consequently, decreasing external Hg inputs can be expected to reduce MeHg in the food web, but it will likely take many decades to centuries before those reductions are achieved. Extensive efforts to reduce loads from the largest Hg mining source (the historic New Almaden mining district) are underway. Hg is spread widely across the urban landscape, but there are a number of key sources, source areas, and pathways that provide opportunities to capture larger quantities of Hg and reduce loads

  1. FoodWiki: a Mobile App Examines Side Effects of Food Additives Via Semantic Web.

    PubMed

    Çelik Ertuğrul, Duygu

    2016-02-01

    In this article, a research project on mobile safe food consumption system (FoodWiki) is discussed that performs its own inferencing rules in its own knowledge base. Currently, the developed rules examines the side effects that are causing some health risks: heart disease, diabetes, allergy, and asthma as initial. There are thousands compounds added to the processed food by food producers with numerous effects on the food: to add color, stabilize, texturize, preserve, sweeten, thicken, add flavor, soften, emulsify, and so forth. Those commonly used ingredients or compounds in manufactured foods may have many side effects that cause several health risks such as heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol, asthma, diabetes, allergies, alzheimer etc. according to World Health Organization. Safety in food consumption, especially by patients in these risk groups, has become crucial, given that such health problems are ranked in the top ten health risks around the world. It is needed personal e-health knowledge base systems to help patients take control of their safe food consumption. The systems with advanced semantic knowledge base can provide recommendations of appropriate foods before consumption by individuals. The proposed FoodWiki system is using a concept based search mechanism that performs on thousands food compounds to provide more relevant information.

  2. FoodWiki: a Mobile App Examines Side Effects of Food Additives Via Semantic Web.

    PubMed

    Çelik Ertuğrul, Duygu

    2016-02-01

    In this article, a research project on mobile safe food consumption system (FoodWiki) is discussed that performs its own inferencing rules in its own knowledge base. Currently, the developed rules examines the side effects that are causing some health risks: heart disease, diabetes, allergy, and asthma as initial. There are thousands compounds added to the processed food by food producers with numerous effects on the food: to add color, stabilize, texturize, preserve, sweeten, thicken, add flavor, soften, emulsify, and so forth. Those commonly used ingredients or compounds in manufactured foods may have many side effects that cause several health risks such as heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol, asthma, diabetes, allergies, alzheimer etc. according to World Health Organization. Safety in food consumption, especially by patients in these risk groups, has become crucial, given that such health problems are ranked in the top ten health risks around the world. It is needed personal e-health knowledge base systems to help patients take control of their safe food consumption. The systems with advanced semantic knowledge base can provide recommendations of appropriate foods before consumption by individuals. The proposed FoodWiki system is using a concept based search mechanism that performs on thousands food compounds to provide more relevant information. PMID:26590979

  3. Spatial Guilds in the Serengeti Food Web Revealed by a Bayesian Group Model

    PubMed Central

    Baskerville, Edward B.; Dobson, Andy P.; Bedford, Trevor; Allesina, Stefano; Anderson, T. Michael; Pascual, Mercedes

    2011-01-01

    Food webs, networks of feeding relationships in an ecosystem, provide fundamental insights into mechanisms that determine ecosystem stability and persistence. A standard approach in food-web analysis, and network analysis in general, has been to identify compartments, or modules, defined by many links within compartments and few links between them. This approach can identify large habitat boundaries in the network but may fail to identify other important structures. Empirical analyses of food webs have been further limited by low-resolution data for primary producers. In this paper, we present a Bayesian computational method for identifying group structure using a flexible definition that can describe both functional trophic roles and standard compartments. We apply this method to a newly compiled plant-mammal food web from the Serengeti ecosystem that includes high taxonomic resolution at the plant level, allowing a simultaneous examination of the signature of both habitat and trophic roles in network structure. We find that groups at the plant level reflect habitat structure, coupled at higher trophic levels by groups of herbivores, which are in turn coupled by carnivore groups. Thus the group structure of the Serengeti web represents a mixture of trophic guild structure and spatial pattern, in contrast to the standard compartments typically identified. The network topology supports recent ideas on spatial coupling and energy channels in ecosystems that have been proposed as important for persistence. Furthermore, our Bayesian approach provides a powerful, flexible framework for the study of network structure, and we believe it will prove instrumental in a variety of biological contexts. PMID:22219719

  4. Spatial guilds in the Serengeti food web revealed by a Bayesian group model.

    PubMed

    Baskerville, Edward B; Dobson, Andy P; Bedford, Trevor; Allesina, Stefano; Anderson, T Michael; Pascual, Mercedes

    2011-12-01

    Food webs, networks of feeding relationships in an ecosystem, provide fundamental insights into mechanisms that determine ecosystem stability and persistence. A standard approach in food-web analysis, and network analysis in general, has been to identify compartments, or modules, defined by many links within compartments and few links between them. This approach can identify large habitat boundaries in the network but may fail to identify other important structures. Empirical analyses of food webs have been further limited by low-resolution data for primary producers. In this paper, we present a Bayesian computational method for identifying group structure using a flexible definition that can describe both functional trophic roles and standard compartments. We apply this method to a newly compiled plant-mammal food web from the Serengeti ecosystem that includes high taxonomic resolution at the plant level, allowing a simultaneous examination of the signature of both habitat and trophic roles in network structure. We find that groups at the plant level reflect habitat structure, coupled at higher trophic levels by groups of herbivores, which are in turn coupled by carnivore groups. Thus the group structure of the Serengeti web represents a mixture of trophic guild structure and spatial pattern, in contrast to the standard compartments typically identified. The network topology supports recent ideas on spatial coupling and energy channels in ecosystems that have been proposed as important for persistence. Furthermore, our Bayesian approach provides a powerful, flexible framework for the study of network structure, and we believe it will prove instrumental in a variety of biological contexts. PMID:22219719

  5. Microbial food web contributions to bottom water hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dagg, Michael; Sato, Riki; Liu, Hongbin; Bianchi, Thomas S.; Green, Rebecca; Powell, Rodney

    2008-05-01

    Nutrients from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya Rivers greatly stimulate biological production in the 'classical' food web on the inner shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Portions of this production, especially large diatoms and zooplankton fecal pellets, sink and decompose in the bottom water, consuming oxygen and contributing to the annual development of an extensive zone of bottom water hypoxia, typically >15,000 km 2 since 1993. The microbial food web is also active in the Mississippi River plume, but consists of small organisms that sink slowly. This 'recycling' food web has not been considered as a significant contributor to vertical flux and hypoxia. However, gelatinous zooplankton, especially pelagic appendicularians such as Oikopleura dioica, mediate the conversion of microbial web organisms to organic particles with high sinking rates. When pelagic appendicularians are abundant in coastal regions of the northern Gulf of Mexico, they stimulate the rapid vertical transfer of microbial web productivity in the surface layer, which is only 5-15 m thick in the coastal hypoxic region, to the sub-pycnocline layer that becomes hypoxic each summer. In this paper we present results from two studies examining the significance of this pathway. In both 2002 and 2004, we observed high production rates of appendicularians in coastal waters. Discarded gelatinous houses and fecal pellets from the appendicularian populations often provided more than 1 g m -2 d -1 of organic carbon for the establishment and maintenance of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This source of organic matter flux is especially important in regions far from the river plumes and during periods of low river discharge. Autotrophic elements of this food web are primarily supported by recycled inorganic nutrients originating in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. Sources of dissolved organic matter (DOM) supporting the heterotrophic components of this microbial food web may include in situ

  6. Prokaryotes and the input of polyunsaturated fatty acids to the marine food web.

    PubMed

    Nichols, David S

    2003-02-14

    The investigation of prokaryotes in aquatic ecology is often limited to their role in nutrient cycling and the degradation of organic matter. While this aspect of the microbial loop is undoubtedly important, further aspects of bacterial roles in marine food webs exist which have not been fully considered in light of recent research in related fields. The concept of bacteria providing essential nutrients may derive importance from two aspects of their role in the marine environment; firstly as a primary food source for omnivorous, sestonivorous and filtering benthic animals and secondly as components of the commensal microbial communities of marine animals. Many marine organisms lack the de novo ability to produce n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and hence rely on a dietary supply of PUFA. The issue of PUFA origin in the marine food web is particularly salient in light of recent research demonstrating the influence of PUFA levels on the efficiency of energy transfer between trophic levels. The assumption that microalgae provide the bulk of de novo PUFA production for all marine food webs must be actively reviewed with respect to particular microbial niches such as sea ice, marine animals and abyssal communities.

  7. Density outbursts in a food web model with a closed nutrient cycle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Szwabiński, Janusz

    2013-09-01

    A spatial three level food web model with a closed nutrient cycle is presented and analyzed via Monte Carlo simulations. The food web consists of three trophic levels. The basal level species (called resources, R) corresponds to primary producers in real ecosystems. The species at an intermediate level (consumers, C) relates to herbivores. It feeds on the resources. The consumers themselves constitute food for the top level species (predators, P), which corresponds to carnivores. The remains of the consumers and predators (detritus, D) provide nutrient for the resources. The time evolution of the model reveals two asymptotic states: an absorbing one with all species being extinct, and a coexisting one, in which concentrations of all species are non-zero. There are two possible ways for the system to reach the absorbing state. In some cases the densities increase very quickly at the beginning of a simulation and then decline slowly and almost monotonically. In others, well pronounced peaks in the R, C and D densities appear regularly before the extinction. Those peaks correspond to density outbursts (waves) traveling through the system. We investigate the mechanisms leading to the waves. In particular, we show that the percolation of the detritus (i.e. the accumulation of nutrients) is necessary for the emergence of the waves. Moreover, our results corroborate the hypothesis that top-level predators play an essential role in maintaining the stability of a food web (top-down control).

  8. Methylmercury enters an aquatic food web through acidophilic microbial mats in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Boyd, E.S.; King, S.; Tomberlin, J.K.; Nordstrom, D.K.; Krabbenhoft, D.P.; Barkay, T.; Geesey, G.G.

    2009-01-01

    Summary Microbial mats are a visible and abundant life form inhabiting the extreme environments in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), WY, USA. Little is known of their role in food webs that exist in the Park's geothermal habitats. Eukaryotic green algae associated with a phototrophic green/purple Zygogonium microbial mat community that inhabits low-temperature regions of acidic (pH ??? 3.0) thermal springs were found to serve as a food source for stratiomyid (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) larvae. Mercury in spring source water was taken up and concentrated by the mat biomass. Monomethylmercury compounds (MeHg +), while undetectable or near the detection limit (0.025 ng l -1) in the source water of the springs, was present at concentrations of 4-7 ng g-1 dry weight of mat biomass. Detection of MeHg + in tracheal tissue of larvae grazing the mat suggests that MeHg+ enters this geothermal food web through the phototrophic microbial mat community. The concentration of MeHg+ was two to five times higher in larval tissue than mat biomass indicating MeHg+ biomagnification occurred between primary producer and primary consumer trophic levels. The Zygogonium mat community and stratiomyid larvae may also play a role in the transfer of MeHg+ to species in the food web whose range extends beyond a particular geothermal feature of YNP. ?? 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation ?? 2008 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

  9. Methylmercury enters an aquatic food web through acidophilic microbial mats in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

    PubMed

    Boyd, Eric S; King, Susan; Tomberlin, Jeffery K; Nordstrom, D Kirk; Krabbenhoft, David P; Barkay, Tamar; Geesey, Gill G

    2009-04-01

    Microbial mats are a visible and abundant life form inhabiting the extreme environments in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), WY, USA. Little is known of their role in food webs that exist in the Park's geothermal habitats. Eukaryotic green algae associated with a phototrophic green/purple Zygogonium microbial mat community that inhabits low-temperature regions of acidic (pH approximately 3.0) thermal springs were found to serve as a food source for stratiomyid (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) larvae. Mercury in spring source water was taken up and concentrated by the mat biomass. Monomethylmercury compounds (MeHg(+)), while undetectable or near the detection limit (0.025 ng l(-1)) in the source water of the springs, was present at concentrations of 4-7 ng g(-1) dry weight of mat biomass. Detection of MeHg(+) in tracheal tissue of larvae grazing the mat suggests that MeHg(+) enters this geothermal food web through the phototrophic microbial mat community. The concentration of MeHg(+) was two to five times higher in larval tissue than mat biomass indicating MeHg(+) biomagnification occurred between primary producer and primary consumer trophic levels. The Zygogonium mat community and stratiomyid larvae may also play a role in the transfer of MeHg(+) to species in the food web whose range extends beyond a particular geothermal feature of YNP.

  10. Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river.

    PubMed

    Jardine, Timothy D; Pusey, Bradley J; Hamilton, Stephen K; Pettit, Neil E; Davies, Peter M; Douglas, Michael M; Sinnamon, Vivian; Halliday, Ian A; Bunn, Stuart E

    2012-03-01

    High levels of hydrological connectivity during seasonal flooding provide significant opportunities for movements of fish between rivers and their floodplains, estuaries and the sea, possibly mediating food web subsidies among habitats. To determine the degree of utilisation of food sources from different habitats in a tropical river with a short floodplain inundation duration (~2 months), stable isotope ratios in fishes and their available food were measured from three habitats (inundated floodplain, dry season freshwater, coastal marine) in the lower reaches of the Mitchell River, Queensland (Australia). Floodplain food sources constituted the majority of the diet of large-bodied fishes (barramundi Lates calcarifer, catfish Neoarius graeffei) captured on the floodplain in the wet season and for gonadal tissues of a common herbivorous fish (gizzard shad Nematalosa come), the latter suggesting that critical reproductive phases are fuelled by floodplain production. Floodplain food sources also subsidised barramundi from the recreational fishery in adjacent coastal and estuarine areas, and the broader fish community from a freshwater lagoon. These findings highlight the importance of the floodplain in supporting the production of large fishes in spite of the episodic nature and relatively short duration of inundation compared to large river floodplains of humid tropical regions. They also illustrate the high degree of food web connectivity mediated by mobile fish in this system in the absence of human modification, and point to the potential consequences of water resource development that may reduce or eliminate hydrological connectivity between the river and its floodplain.

  11. Analyzing pelagic food webs leading to top predators in the Pacific Ocean: A graph-theoretic approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dambacher, Jeffrey M.; Young, Jock W.; Olson, Robert J.; Allain, Valérie; Galván-Magaña, Felipe; Lansdell, Matthew J.; Bocanegra-Castillo, Noemí; Alatorre-Ramírez, Vanessa; Cooper, Scott P.; Duffy, Leanne M.

    2010-07-01

    This work examined diet data from studies of top pelagic predators from three large regions of the equatorial and South Pacific Ocean. Food webs of each of these three systems were found to have relatively high species diversity, but in contrast to other marine systems, relatively low connectance. Food webs were examined using graph-theoretic methods, which included aggregating species based on food-web relationships and identification of potentially influential species. Species aggregations were used to construct simplified qualitative models from each region’s food web. Models from each region were then analyzed to make predictions of response to climate change for six commercially important species: mahi mahi, skipjack tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, and swordfish. We found little commonality in the structure of the three food webs, although the two regions in the equatorial Pacific had food webs composed of four predation tiers, as defined by network levels of predation, whereas the south-western region had only three predation tiers. We also found no consistent pattern in the predicted outcomes of the perturbations, which underlines the need for detailed trophic databases to adequately describe regional pelagic ecosystems. This work demonstrates that food-web structure will be central to understanding and predicting how top pelagic predators, and the ecosystems in which they are embedded, will respond to climate change.

  12. Climate change alters the structure of arctic marine food webs due to poleward shifts of boreal generalists.

    PubMed

    Kortsch, Susanne; Primicerio, Raul; Fossheim, Maria; Dolgov, Andrey V; Aschan, Michaela

    2015-09-01

    Climate-driven poleward shifts, leading to changes in species composition and relative abundances, have been recently documented in the Arctic. Among the fastest moving species are boreal generalist fish which are expected to affect arctic marine food web structure and ecosystem functioning substantially. Here, we address structural changes at the food web level induced by poleward shifts via topological network analysis of highly resolved boreal and arctic food webs of the Barents Sea. We detected considerable differences in structural properties and link configuration between the boreal and the arctic food webs, the latter being more modular and less connected. We found that a main characteristic of the boreal fish moving poleward into the arctic region of the Barents Sea is high generalism, a property that increases connectance and reduces modularity in the arctic marine food web. Our results reveal that habitats form natural boundaries for food web modules, and that generalists play an important functional role in coupling pelagic and benthic modules. We posit that these habitat couplers have the potential to promote the transfer of energy and matter between habitats, but also the spread of pertubations, thereby changing arctic marine food web structure considerably with implications for ecosystem dynamics and functioning.

  13. Isotopic studies in Pacific Panama mangrove estuaries reveal lack of effect of watershed deforestation on food webs.

    PubMed

    Viana, Inés G; Valiela, Ivan; Martinetto, Paulina; Monteiro Pierce, Rita; Fox, Sophia E

    2015-02-01

    Stable isotopic N, C, and S in food webs of 8 mangrove estuaries on the Pacific coast of Panama were measured to 1) determine whether the degree of deforestation of tropical forests on the contributing watersheds was detectable within the estuarine food web, and 2) define external sources of the food webs within the mangrove estuaries. Even though terrestrial rain forest cover on the contributing watersheds differed between 23 and 92%, the effect of deforestation was not detectable on stable isotopic values in food webs present at the mouth of the receiving estuaries. We used stable isotopic measures to identify producers or organic sources that supported the estuarine food web. N isotopic values of consumers spanned a broad range, from about 2.7 to 12.3‰. Mean δ(15)N of primary producers and organic matter varied from 3.3 for macroalgae to 4.7‰ for suspended particulate matter and large particulate matter. The δ(13)C consumer data varied between -26 and -9‰, but isotopic values of the major apparent producers or organic matter sampled could not account for this range variability. The structure of the food web was clarified when we added literature isotopic values of microphytobenthos and coralline algae, suggesting that these, or other producers with similar isotopic signature, may be part of the food webs.

  14. Climate change alters the structure of arctic marine food webs due to poleward shifts of boreal generalists.

    PubMed

    Kortsch, Susanne; Primicerio, Raul; Fossheim, Maria; Dolgov, Andrey V; Aschan, Michaela

    2015-09-01

    Climate-driven poleward shifts, leading to changes in species composition and relative abundances, have been recently documented in the Arctic. Among the fastest moving species are boreal generalist fish which are expected to affect arctic marine food web structure and ecosystem functioning substantially. Here, we address structural changes at the food web level induced by poleward shifts via topological network analysis of highly resolved boreal and arctic food webs of the Barents Sea. We detected considerable differences in structural properties and link configuration between the boreal and the arctic food webs, the latter being more modular and less connected. We found that a main characteristic of the boreal fish moving poleward into the arctic region of the Barents Sea is high generalism, a property that increases connectance and reduces modularity in the arctic marine food web. Our results reveal that habitats form natural boundaries for food web modules, and that generalists play an important functional role in coupling pelagic and benthic modules. We posit that these habitat couplers have the potential to promote the transfer of energy and matter between habitats, but also the spread of pertubations, thereby changing arctic marine food web structure considerably with implications for ecosystem dynamics and functioning. PMID:26336179

  15. Climate change alters the structure of arctic marine food webs due to poleward shifts of boreal generalists

    PubMed Central

    Kortsch, Susanne; Primicerio, Raul; Fossheim, Maria; Dolgov, Andrey V.; Aschan, Michaela

    2015-01-01

    Climate-driven poleward shifts, leading to changes in species composition and relative abundances, have been recently documented in the Arctic. Among the fastest moving species are boreal generalist fish which are expected to affect arctic marine food web structure and ecosystem functioning substantially. Here, we address structural changes at the food web level induced by poleward shifts via topological network analysis of highly resolved boreal and arctic food webs of the Barents Sea. We detected considerable differences in structural properties and link configuration between the boreal and the arctic food webs, the latter being more modular and less connected. We found that a main characteristic of the boreal fish moving poleward into the arctic region of the Barents Sea is high generalism, a property that increases connectance and reduces modularity in the arctic marine food web. Our results reveal that habitats form natural boundaries for food web modules, and that generalists play an important functional role in coupling pelagic and benthic modules. We posit that these habitat couplers have the potential to promote the transfer of energy and matter between habitats, but also the spread of pertubations, thereby changing arctic marine food web structure considerably with implications for ecosystem dynamics and functioning. PMID:26336179

  16. Food-Web Complexity in Guaymas Basin Hydrothermal Vents and Cold Seeps

    PubMed Central

    Olu, Karine; Dubois, Stanislas F.; Escobar-Briones, Elva; Gelinas, Yves; Menot, Lénaick; Sarrazin, Jozée

    2016-01-01

    In the Guaymas Basin, the presence of cold seeps and hydrothermal vents in close proximity, similar sedimentary settings and comparable depths offers a unique opportunity to assess and compare the functioning of these deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems. The food webs of five seep and four vent assemblages were studied using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses. Although the two ecosystems shared similar potential basal sources, their food webs differed: seeps relied predominantly on methanotrophy and thiotrophy via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle and vents on petroleum-derived organic matter and thiotrophy via the CBB and reductive tricarboxylic acid (rTCA) cycles. In contrast to symbiotic species, the heterotrophic fauna exhibited high trophic flexibility among assemblages, suggesting weak trophic links to the metabolic diversity of chemosynthetic primary producers. At both ecosystems, food webs did not appear to be organised through predator-prey links but rather through weak trophic relationships among co-occurring species. Examples of trophic or spatial niche differentiation highlighted the importance of species-sorting processes within chemosynthetic ecosystems. Variability in food web structure, addressed through Bayesian metrics, revealed consistent trends across ecosystems. Food-web complexity significantly decreased with increasing methane concentrations, a common proxy for the intensity of seep and vent fluid fluxes. Although high fluid-fluxes have the potential to enhance primary productivity, they generate environmental constraints that may limit microbial diversity, colonisation of consumers and the structuring role of competitive interactions, leading to an overall reduction of food-web complexity and an increase in trophic redundancy. Heterogeneity provided by foundation species was identified as an additional structuring factor. According to their biological activities, foundation species may have the potential to partly release the

  17. Food webs and physical biological coupling on pan-Arctic shelves: Unifying concepts and comprehensive perspectives

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Carmack, Eddy; Wassmann, Paul

    2006-10-01

    Perhaps more than in any other ocean, our understanding of the continental shelves of the Arctic Mediterranean is decidedly disciplinary, regional and fractured, and this shortcoming must be addressed if we are to face and prepare for climate change. A fundamental flaw is that while excellent process studies exist, and while recent ship-based expeditions have added greatly to our collective body of knowledge, an integrated and fully pan-Arctic perspective on the structure and function of food webs on Arctic shelves is lacking. Based on the collective overviews given in Progress in Oceanography xx, xx-xx, we attempt to address this issue. To build a perspective that inter-connects the various shelf regions we suggest three unifying typologies affecting food webs that will hopefully allow inter-comparison of regional investigations. The first is for shelf geography, wherein shelves are classified according to their role in the Arctic throughflow. The second is for ice climate, wherein the various ice regimes are examined for their specific impacts on food web dynamics. The third is for stratification where it is argued that the source of buoyancy, thermal or haline, impacts production and the vertical carbon flux. We then address the connection between physical habitat and biota on pan-Arctic (and global climate) scales. This discussion begins with the recognition that the Arctic Ocean is integral to the World Ocean via its thermohaline (“estuarine”) exchanges with the Atlantic and Pacific. As such the Arctic and its shelves act as a double estuary, wherein incoming waters become both lighter (positive estuary), by mixing with freshwater sources, and heavier (negative estuary) by cooling and brine release. Shelves are central to such transformations. This complex interconnectivity coupling of the Arctic Ocean to its sub-Arctic (and more productive) neighbors demands that food webs be considered through a macroecological view that includes an ecology of advection

  18. All wet or dried up? Real differences between aquatic and terrestrial food webs

    PubMed Central

    Shurin, Jonathan B; Gruner, Daniel S; Hillebrand, Helmut

    2005-01-01

    Ecologists have greatly advanced our understanding of the processes that regulate trophic structure and dynamics in ecosystems. However, the causes of systematic variation among ecosystems remain controversial and poorly elucidated. Contrasts between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in particular have inspired much speculation, but only recent empirical quantification. Here, we review evidence for systematic differences in energy flow and biomass partitioning between producers and herbivores, detritus and decomposers, and higher trophic levels. The magnitudes of different trophic pathways vary considerably, with less herbivory, more decomposers and more detrital accumulation on land. Aquatic–terrestrial differences are consistent across the global range of primary productivity, indicating that structural contrasts between the two systems are preserved despite large variation in energy input. We argue that variable selective forces drive differences in plant allocation patterns in aquatic and terrestrial environments that propagate upward to shape food webs. The small size and lack of structural tissues in phytoplankton mean that aquatic primary producers achieve faster growth rates and are more nutritious to heterotrophs than their terrestrial counterparts. Plankton food webs are also strongly size-structured, while size and trophic position are less strongly correlated in most terrestrial (and many benthic) habitats. The available data indicate that contrasts between aquatic and terrestrial food webs are driven primarily by the growth rate, size and nutritional quality of autotrophs. Differences in food-web architecture (food chain length, the prevalence of omnivory, specialization or anti-predator defences) may arise as a consequence of systematic variation in the character of the producer community. PMID:16519227

  19. Numerical bifurcation analysis of a tri-trophic food web with omnivory.

    PubMed

    Kooi, B W; Kuijper, L D J; Boer, M P; Kooijman, S A L M

    2002-01-01

    We study the consequences of omnivory on the dynamic behaviour of a three species food web under chemostat conditions. The food web consists of a prey consuming a nutrient, a predator consuming a prey and an omnivore which preys on the predator and the prey. For each trophic level an ordinary differential equation describes the biomass density in the reactor. The hyperbolic functional response for single and multi prey species figures in the description of the trophic interactions. There are two limiting cases where the omnivore is a specialist; a food chain where the omnivore does not consume the prey and competition where the omnivore does not prey on the predator. We use bifurcation analysis to study the long-term dynamic behaviour for various degrees of omnivory. Attractors can be equilibria, limit cycles or chaotic behaviour depending on the control parameters of the chemostat. Often multiple attractor occur. In this paper we will discuss community assembly. That is, we analyze how the trophic structure of the food web evolves following invasion where a new invader is introduced one at the time. Generally, with an invasion, the invader settles itself and persists with all other species, however, the invader may also replace another species. We will show that the food web model has a global bifurcation, being a heteroclinic connection from a saddle equilibrium to a limit cycle of saddle type. This global bifurcation separates regions in the bifurcation diagram with different attractors to which the system evolves after invasion. To investigate the consequences of omnivory we will focus on invasion of the omnivore. This simplifies the analysis considerably, for the end-point of the assembly sequence is then unique. A weak interaction of the omnivore with the prey combined with a stronger interaction with the predator seems advantageous. PMID:11965256

  20. From ontology selection and semantic web to an integrated information system for food-borne diseases and food safety.

    PubMed

    Yan, Xianghe; Peng, Yun; Meng, Jianghong; Ruzante, Juliana; Fratamico, Pina M; Huang, Lihan; Juneja, Vijay; Needleman, David S

    2011-01-01

    Several factors have hindered effective use of information and resources related to food safety due to inconsistency among semantically heterogeneous data resources, lack of knowledge on profiling of food-borne pathogens, and knowledge gaps among research communities, government risk assessors/managers, and end-users of the information. This paper discusses technical aspects in the establishment of a comprehensive food safety information system consisting of the following steps: (a) computational collection and compiling publicly available information, including published pathogen genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic data; (b) development of ontology libraries on food-borne pathogens and design automatic algorithms with formal inference and fuzzy and probabilistic reasoning to address the consistency and accuracy of distributed information resources (e.g., PulseNet, FoodNet, OutbreakNet, PubMed, NCBI, EMBL, and other online genetic databases and information); (c) integration of collected pathogen profiling data, Foodrisk.org ( http://www.foodrisk.org ), PMP, Combase, and other relevant information into a user-friendly, searchable, "homogeneous" information system available to scientists in academia, the food industry, and government agencies; and (d) development of a computational model in semantic web for greater adaptability and robustness.

  1. Some properties of the speciation model for food-web structure-mechanisms for degree distributions and intervality.

    PubMed

    Rossberg, A G; Matsuda, H; Amemiya, T; Itoh, K

    2006-01-21

    We present a mathematical analysis of the speciation model for food-web structure, which had in previous work been shown to yield a good description of empirical data of food-web topology. The degree distributions of the network are derived. Properties of the speciation model are compared to those of other models that successfully describe empirical data. It is argued that the speciation model unifies the underlying ideas of previous theories. In particular, it offers a mechanistic explanation for the success of the niche model of Williams and Martinez and the frequent observation of intervality in empirical food webs.

  2. Community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web following reforestation on degraded Karst soil.

    PubMed

    Hu, Ning; Li, Hui; Tang, Zheng; Li, Zhongfang; Tian, Jing; Lou, Yilai; Li, Jianwei; Li, Guichun; Hu, Xiaomin

    2016-01-01

    We examined community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web along a chronosequence of T. Sinensis reforestation on degraded Karst. In general, after the reforestation: a serious of diversity parameters and community indices (Shannon-Weinier index (H'), structure index (SI), etc.) were elevated; biomass ratio of fungivores to bacterivores (FFC/BFC), and fungi to bacteria (F/B) were increased, and nematode channel ratio (NCR) were decreased; carbon footprints of all nematode trophic groups, and biomass of bacteria and fungi were increased. Our results indicate that the Karst aboveground vegetation restoration was accompanied with belowground nematode food web development: increasing community complexity, function and fungal dominance in decomposition pathway, and the driving forces included the bottom-up effect (resource control), connectedness of functional groups, as well as soil environments. PMID:27311984

  3. Experimental warming transforms multiple predator effects in a grassland food web.

    PubMed

    Barton, Brandon T; Schmitz, Oswald J

    2009-12-01

    This experimental study tests new theory for multiple predator effects on communities by using warming to alter predator habitat use and hence direct and indirect interactions in a grassland food web containing two dominant spider predator species, a dominant grasshopper herbivore and grass and herb plants. Experimental warming further offers insight into how climate change might alter direct and indirect effects. Under ambient environmental conditions, spiders used habitat in spatially complementary locations. Consistent with predictions, the multiple predator effect on grasshoppers and on plants was the average of the individual predator effects. Warming strengthened the single predator effects. It also caused the spider species to overlap lower in the vegetation canopy. Consistent with predictions, the system was transformed into an intraguild predation system with the consequent extinction of one spider species. The results portend climate caused loss of predator diversity with important consequences for food web structure and function. PMID:19780788

  4. Food webs in Mongolian grasslands: the analysis of 13C and 15N natural abundances.

    PubMed

    Kohzu, Ayato; Iwata, T; Kato, M; Nishikawa, J; Wada, Eitaro; Amartuvshin, N; Namkhaidorj, B; Fujita, N

    2009-09-01

    Overgrazing often lowers species richness and productivity of grassland communities. For Mongolian grassland ecosystems, a lack of detailed information about food-web structures makes it difficult to predict the effects of overgrazing on species diversity and community composition. We analysed the delta13C and delta15N signatures of herbaceous plants, arthropods (grouped by feeding habit), wild and domestic mammals, and humans in central Mongolia to understand the predominant food-web pathways in this grassland ecosystem. The delta13C and delta15N values of mammals showed little variation within species, but varied considerably with slope position for arthropods. The apparent isotopic discrimination between body tissue and hair of mammals was estimated as 2.0 per thousand for delta13C and 2.1 per thousand for delta15N, which was large enough to cause overestimation of the trophic level of mammals if not taken into account when using hair samples to measure isotopic enrichment.

  5. Food-web structure in low- and high-dimensional trophic niche spaces.

    PubMed

    Rossberg, Axel G; Brännström, Ake; Dieckmann, Ulf

    2010-12-01

    A question central to modelling and, ultimately, managing food webs concerns the dimensionality of trophic niche space, that is, the number of independent traits relevant for determining consumer-resource links. Food-web topologies can often be interpreted by assuming resource traits to be specified by points along a line and each consumer's diet to be given by resources contained in an interval on this line. This phenomenon, called intervality, has been known for 30 years and is widely acknowledged to indicate that trophic niche space is close to one-dimensional. We show that the degrees of intervality observed in nature can be reproduced in arbitrary-dimensional trophic niche spaces, provided that the processes of evolutionary diversification and adaptation are taken into account. Contrary to expectations, intervality is least pronounced at intermediate dimensions and steadily improves towards lower- and higher-dimensional trophic niche spaces. PMID:20462875

  6. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons alter the structure of oceanic and oligotrophic microbial food webs.

    PubMed

    Cerezo, Maria Isabel; Agusti, Susana

    2015-12-30

    One way organic pollutants reach remote oceanic regions is by atmospheric transport. During the Malaspina-2010 expedition, across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, we analyzed the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) effects on oceanic microbial food webs. We performed perturbation experiments adding PAHs to classic dilution experiments. The phytoplankton growth rates were reduced by more than 5 times, being Prochlorococcus spp. the most affected. 62% of the experiments showed a reduction in the grazing rates due to the presence of PAHs. For the remaining experiments, grazing usually increased likely due to cascading effects. We identified changes in the slope of the relation between the growth rate and the dilution fraction induced by the pollutants, moving from no grazing to V-shape, or to negative slope, indicative of grazing increase by cascade effects and alterations of the grazers' activity structure. Our perturbation experiments indicate that PAHs could influence the structure oceanic food-webs structure.

  7. Competition and predation in simple food webs: intermediately strong trade-offs maximize coexistence.

    PubMed Central

    HilleRisLambers, Reinier; Dieckmann, Ulf

    2003-01-01

    Competition and predation are fundamental interactions structuring food webs. However, rather than always following these neat theoretical categories, mixed interactions are ubiquitous in nature. Of particular importance are omnivorous species, such as intra-guild predators that can both compete with and predate on their prey. Here, we examine trade-offs between competitive and predatory capacities by analysing the entire continuum of food web configurations existing between purely predator-prey and purely competitive interactions of two consumers subsisting on a single resource. Our results show that the range of conditions allowing for coexistence of the consumers is maximized at intermediately strong trade-offs. Even though coexistence under weak trade-offs and under very strong trade-offs is also possible, it occurs under much more restrictive conditions. We explain these findings by an intricate interplay between energy acquisition and interaction strength. PMID:14728782

  8. Community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web following reforestation on degraded Karst soil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hu, Ning; Li, Hui; Tang, Zheng; Li, Zhongfang; Tian, Jing; Lou, Yilai; Li, Jianwei; Li, Guichun; Hu, Xiaomin

    2016-06-01

    We examined community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web along a chronosequence of T. Sinensis reforestation on degraded Karst. In general, after the reforestation: a serious of diversity parameters and community indices (Shannon-Weinier index (H‧), structure index (SI), etc.) were elevated; biomass ratio of fungivores to bacterivores (FFC/BFC), and fungi to bacteria (F/B) were increased, and nematode channel ratio (NCR) were decreased; carbon footprints of all nematode trophic groups, and biomass of bacteria and fungi were increased. Our results indicate that the Karst aboveground vegetation restoration was accompanied with belowground nematode food web development: increasing community complexity, function and fungal dominance in decomposition pathway, and the driving forces included the bottom-up effect (resource control), connectedness of functional groups, as well as soil environments.

  9. Community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web following reforestation on degraded Karst soil.

    PubMed

    Hu, Ning; Li, Hui; Tang, Zheng; Li, Zhongfang; Tian, Jing; Lou, Yilai; Li, Jianwei; Li, Guichun; Hu, Xiaomin

    2016-06-17

    We examined community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web along a chronosequence of T. Sinensis reforestation on degraded Karst. In general, after the reforestation: a serious of diversity parameters and community indices (Shannon-Weinier index (H'), structure index (SI), etc.) were elevated; biomass ratio of fungivores to bacterivores (FFC/BFC), and fungi to bacteria (F/B) were increased, and nematode channel ratio (NCR) were decreased; carbon footprints of all nematode trophic groups, and biomass of bacteria and fungi were increased. Our results indicate that the Karst aboveground vegetation restoration was accompanied with belowground nematode food web development: increasing community complexity, function and fungal dominance in decomposition pathway, and the driving forces included the bottom-up effect (resource control), connectedness of functional groups, as well as soil environments.

  10. Community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web following reforestation on degraded Karst soil

    PubMed Central

    Hu, Ning; Li, Hui; Tang, Zheng; Li, Zhongfang; Tian, Jing; Lou, Yilai; Li, Jianwei; Li, Guichun; Hu, Xiaomin

    2016-01-01

    We examined community diversity, structure and carbon footprint of nematode food web along a chronosequence of T. Sinensis reforestation on degraded Karst. In general, after the reforestation: a serious of diversity parameters and community indices (Shannon-Weinier index (H′), structure index (SI), etc.) were elevated; biomass ratio of fungivores to bacterivores (FFC/BFC), and fungi to bacteria (F/B) were increased, and nematode channel ratio (NCR) were decreased; carbon footprints of all nematode trophic groups, and biomass of bacteria and fungi were increased. Our results indicate that the Karst aboveground vegetation restoration was accompanied with belowground nematode food web development: increasing community complexity, function and fungal dominance in decomposition pathway, and the driving forces included the bottom-up effect (resource control), connectedness of functional groups, as well as soil environments. PMID:27311984

  11. Transfer of gold nanoparticles from the water column to the estuarine food web

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferry, John L.; Craig, Preston; Hexel, Cole; Sisco, Patrick; Frey, Rebecca; Pennington, Paul L.; Fulton, Michael H.; Scott, I. Geoff; Decho, Alan W.; Kashiwada, Shosaku; Murphy, Catherine J.; Shaw, Timothy J.

    2009-07-01

    Within the next five years the manufacture of large quantities of nanomaterials may lead to unintended contamination of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The unique physical, chemical and electronic properties of nanomaterials allow new modes of interaction with environmental systems that can have unexpected impacts. Here, we show that gold nanorods can readily pass from the water column to the marine food web in three laboratory-constructed estuarine mesocosms containing sea water, sediment, sea grass, microbes, biofilms, snails, clams, shrimp and fish. A single dose of gold nanorods (65 nm length × 15 nm diameter) was added to each mesocosm and their distribution in the aqueous and sediment phases monitored over 12 days. Nanorods partitioned between biofilms, sediments, plants, animals and sea water with a recovery of 84.4%. Clams and biofilms accumulated the most nanoparticles on a per mass basis, suggesting that gold nanorods can readily pass from the water column to the marine food web.

  12. Food-web structure in low- and high-dimensional trophic niche spaces.

    PubMed

    Rossberg, Axel G; Brännström, Ake; Dieckmann, Ulf

    2010-12-01

    A question central to modelling and, ultimately, managing food webs concerns the dimensionality of trophic niche space, that is, the number of independent traits relevant for determining consumer-resource links. Food-web topologies can often be interpreted by assuming resource traits to be specified by points along a line and each consumer's diet to be given by resources contained in an interval on this line. This phenomenon, called intervality, has been known for 30 years and is widely acknowledged to indicate that trophic niche space is close to one-dimensional. We show that the degrees of intervality observed in nature can be reproduced in arbitrary-dimensional trophic niche spaces, provided that the processes of evolutionary diversification and adaptation are taken into account. Contrary to expectations, intervality is least pronounced at intermediate dimensions and steadily improves towards lower- and higher-dimensional trophic niche spaces.

  13. Mercury bioaccumulation and trophic transfer in the terrestrial food web of a montane forest.

    PubMed

    Rimmer, Christopher C; Miller, Eric K; McFarland, Kent P; Taylor, Robert J; Faccio, Steven D

    2010-04-01

    We investigated mercury (Hg) concentrations in a terrestrial food web in high elevation forests in Vermont. Hg concentrations increased from autotrophic organisms to herbivores < detritivores < omnivores < carnivores. Within the carnivores studied, raptors had higher blood Hg concentrations than their songbird prey. The Hg concentration in the blood of the focal study species, Bicknell's thrush (Catharus bicknelli), varied over the course of the summer in response to a diet shift related to changing availability of arthropod prey. The Bicknell's thrush food web is more detrital-based (with higher Hg concentrations) in early summer and more foliage-based (with lower Hg concentrations) during late summer. There were significant year effects in different ecosystem compartments indicating a possible connection between atmospheric Hg deposition, detrital-layer Hg concentrations, arthropod Hg concentrations, and passerine blood Hg concentrations.

  14. Highly resolved early Eocene food webs show development of modern trophic structure after the end-Cretaceous extinction.

    PubMed

    Dunne, Jennifer A; Labandeira, Conrad C; Williams, Richard J

    2014-05-01

    Generalities of food web structure have been identified for extant ecosystems. However, the trophic organization of ancient ecosystems is unresolved, as prior studies of fossil webs have been limited by low-resolution, high-uncertainty data. We compiled highly resolved, well-documented feeding interaction data for 700 taxa from the 48 million-year-old latest early Eocene Messel Shale, which contains a species assemblage that developed after an interval of protracted environmental and biotal change during and following the end-Cretaceous extinction. We compared the network structure of Messel lake and forest food webs to extant webs using analyses that account for scale dependence of structure with diversity and complexity. The Messel lake web, with 94 taxa, displays unambiguous similarities in structure to extant webs. While the Messel forest web, with 630 taxa, displays differences compared to extant webs, they appear to result from high diversity and resolution of insect-plant interactions, rather than substantive differences in structure. The evidence presented here suggests that modern trophic organization developed along with the modern Messel biota during an 18 Myr interval of dramatic post-extinction change. Our study also has methodological implications, as the Messel forest web analysis highlights limitations of current food web data and models.

  15. Highly resolved early Eocene food webs show development of modern trophic structure after the end-Cretaceous extinction

    PubMed Central

    Dunne, Jennifer A.; Labandeira, Conrad C.; Williams, Richard J.

    2014-01-01

    Generalities of food web structure have been identified for extant ecosystems. However, the trophic organization of ancient ecosystems is unresolved, as prior studies of fossil webs have been limited by low-resolution, high-uncertainty data. We compiled highly resolved, well-documented feeding interaction data for 700 taxa from the 48 million-year-old latest early Eocene Messel Shale, which contains a species assemblage that developed after an interval of protracted environmental and biotal change during and following the end-Cretaceous extinction. We compared the network structure of Messel lake and forest food webs to extant webs using analyses that account for scale dependence of structure with diversity and complexity. The Messel lake web, with 94 taxa, displays unambiguous similarities in structure to extant webs. While the Messel forest web, with 630 taxa, displays differences compared to extant webs, they appear to result from high diversity and resolution of insect–plant interactions, rather than substantive differences in structure. The evidence presented here suggests that modern trophic organization developed along with the modern Messel biota during an 18 Myr interval of dramatic post-extinction change. Our study also has methodological implications, as the Messel forest web analysis highlights limitations of current food web data and models. PMID:24648225

  16. Concomitant predation on parasites is highly variable but constrains the ways in which parasites contribute to food web structure.

    PubMed

    Cirtwill, Alyssa R; Stouffer, Daniel B

    2015-05-01

    Previous analyses of empirical food webs (the networks of who eats whom in a community) have revealed that parasites exert a strong influence over observed food web structure and alter many network properties such as connectance and degree distributions. It remains unclear, however, whether these community-level effects are fully explained by differences in the ways that parasites and free-living species interact within a food web. To rigorously quantify the interrelationship between food web structure, the types of species in a web and the distinct types of feeding links between them, we introduce a shared methodology to quantify the structural roles of both species and feeding links. Roles are quantified based on the frequencies with which a species (or link) appears in different food web motifs - the building blocks of networks. We hypothesized that different types of species (e.g. top predators, basal resources, parasites) and different types of links between species (e.g. classic predation, parasitism, concomitant predation on parasites along with their hosts) will show characteristic differences in their food web roles. We found that parasites do indeed have unique structural roles in food webs. Moreover, we demonstrate that different types of feeding links (e.g. parasitism, predation or concomitant predation) are distributed differently in a food web context. More than any other interaction type, concomitant predation appears to constrain the roles of parasites. In contrast, concomitant predation links themselves have more variable roles than any other type of interaction. Together, our results provide a novel perspective on how both species and feeding link composition shape the structure of an ecological community and vice versa.

  17. Current opinions: Zeros in host-parasite food webs: Are they real?

    PubMed

    Rossiter, Wayne

    2013-12-01

    As the data have poured in, and the number of published food webs containing parasites has increased, questions have been raised as to why free-living species consistently outnumber parasites, even though most general reviews on the subject of host:parasite species richness suggest the contrary. Here, I describe this pattern as it exists in the literature, posit both real and artifactual sources of these findings, and suggest ways that we might interpret existing parasite-inclusive food webs. In large part, the reporting of free-living species devoid of any associated parasites (termed here in the coding of food web matrices as "zeros") is a consequence of either sampling issues or the intent of the study. However, there are also several powerful explanatory features that validate real cases of this phenomenon. Some hosts appear to authentically lack parasitism in portions of their geographic ranges, and parasites are often lost from systems that are either in early phases of community re-colonization or are compromised by environmental perturbation. Additionally, multi-stage parasite life cycles and broad host spectra allow some parasite species to partially saturate systems without providing a corresponding increase in parasite species richness, leading to low parasite species richness values relative to the free-living community. On the whole, the existing published food webs are sufficient to, at least in principle, determine basic patterns and pathways associated with parasite establishment and persistence in free-living communities because (1) for the purpose of those features, species rarity is roughly analogous to absence and (2) the existing data seem to suggest that the addition of more parasite taxa would reinforce the patterns already observed. This is particularly true for helminth parasites, in which our understanding and the resolution of our work is most robust. PMID:24533341

  18. Effect of microbes on contaminant transfer in the Lake Superior food web.

    PubMed

    Hudson, Matthew J; Swackhamer, Deborah L; Cotner, James B

    2005-12-15

    The partitioning of PCBs to natural populations of aquatic heterotrophic bacteria from Lake Superior was measured in both field and laboratory studies to better understand the role of bacteria and the microbial food web in persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic organic contaminant (PBT) transfer. A filtration method that separated material >1 microm from that <1 microm was used to collect and measure PCB concentrations in the bacterial fraction. We used bacterial biovolume and a conversion factor to calculate bacterial carbon, which was used to normalize PCB concentrations. The range of total PCB concentrations in the bacterial fraction (61-337 ng/g organic carbon; OC) was similar, but generally higher than that of the total particulate fraction (36-324 ng/g OC). Measured log bioaccumulation factors (BAFoc, bacterial fraction; Koc, total particulate) were significantly greater in the bacterial fraction than in the total particulate fraction (bacterial range 6.7-7.3, total particulate range 5.8-7.0). Laboratory experiments demonstrated that a hexachlorobiphenyl reached steady state with a natural community of Lake Superior bacteria within 48 h and had a mean log BAFoc of 7.5 +/- 1.9. The octanol/ water partition coefficient (Kow) consistently under-predicted BAFoc, however, the magnitude of the under-prediction was still within the range of uncertainty in food web modeling (factors of 3-9). Food web modeling and risk assessment of PBT bioaccumulation in aquatic systems could be improved by considering the microbial food web (bacteria and its protozoan grazers) as a previously unaccounted for pathway of contaminant transfer. PMID:16475328

  19. Mercury biomagnification in the food web of Lake Tanganyika (Tanzania, East Africa).

    PubMed

    Campbell, L; Verburg, Piet; Dixon, D G; Hecky, R E

    2008-09-01

    Lake Tanganyika is a globally important lake with high endemic biodiversity. Millions of people in the lake basin depend on several fish species for consumption. Due to the importance of fish consumption as an exposure route of mercury to humans, we sampled Lake Tanganyika in 2000 to assess total mercury concentrations and biomagnification of total mercury through the food web. Stable nitrogen and carbon isotope analyses of food web structure indicate a complex food web with overlapping omnivory with some specialist fish species. Stable nitrogen isotope analyses further confirm that mercury is biomagnifying through the Tanganyika food web at rates similar to those seen in Lakes Malawi and Victoria, the other two African Great Lakes. Most collected fish species and all invertebrate species had mercury concentrations below 0.2 microg Hg/g wet weight. However, several fish species, Ctenochromis horei (average 0.15 microg/g ww), Neolamprologus boulengeri (0.2 microg/g ww) , Bathybates spp.spp. (0.21 microg/g ww), Mastacembelus cunningtoni (0.22 microg/g ww) and Clarias theodorae (0.22 microg/g ww) approached or slightly exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO)'s recommended guideline of 0.2 microg Hg/g for vulnerable populations with high rates of fish consumption. Two individuals of the piscivorous fish species Lates microlepis (0.54, 0.78 microg/g ww) and a Polypterus congicus (1.3 microg/g ww) exceeded the international marketing limit value of 0.5 microg/g ww. Because C. theodorae and L. microlepis are also important market fish species, there is a need to monitor mercury concentrations in internationally marketed fish from Lake Tanganikya to ensure that those fish do not present a risk to human consumers.

  20. Trophic magnification and isomer fractionation of perfluoroalkyl substances in the food web of Taihu Lake, China.

    PubMed

    Fang, Shuhong; Chen, Xinwei; Zhao, Shuyan; Zhang, Yifeng; Jiang, Weiwei; Yang, Liping; Zhu, Lingyan

    2014-02-18

    Biomagnification of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are well studied in marine food webs, but related information in fresh water ecosystem and knowledge on fractionation of their isomers along the food web are limited. The distribution, bioaccumulation, magnification, and isomer fractionation of PFASs were investigated in a food web of Taihu Lake, China. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs) with longer carbon chain lengths, such as perfluorodecanoate (PFDA) and perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnA), were predominant in organisms, while perfluorohexanoate (PFHxA) and perfluorooctanoate (∑PFOA) contributed more in the water phase. The consistent profile signature of PFOA isomers in water phase with 3M electrochemical fluorination (ECF) products suggests that ECF production of PFOA still exists in China. Linear proportions of PFOA, PFOS and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA) in the biota were in the range of 91.9-100%, 78.6-95.5%, and 72.2-95.5%, respectively, indicating preferential bioaccumulation of linear isomers in biota. Trophic magnification factors (TMFs) were estimated for PFDA (2.43), perfluorododecanoate (PFDoA) (2.68) and PFOS (3.46) when all biota were included, suggesting that PFOS and long-chained PFCAs are biomagnified in the fresh water food web. The TMF of PFOS isomers descended in the order: n-PFOS (3.86) > 3+5m-PFOS (3.35) > 4m-PFOS (3.32) > 1m-PFOS (2.92) > m2-PFOS (2.67) > iso-PFOS (2.59), which is roughly identical to their elution order on a FluoroSep-RP Octyl column, suggesting that hydrophobicity may be an important contributor for isomer discrimination in biota.

  1. Longer and less overlapping food webs in anthropogenically disturbed marine ecosystems: confirmations from the past.

    PubMed

    Saporiti, Fabiana; Bearhop, Stuart; Silva, Laura; Vales, Damián G; Zenteno, Lisette; Crespo, Enrique A; Aguilar, Alex; Cardona, Luis

    2014-01-01

    The human exploitation of marine resources is characterised by the preferential removal of the largest species. Although this is expected to modify the structure of food webs, we have a relatively poor understanding of the potential consequences of such alteration. Here, we take advantage of a collection of ancient consumer tissues, using stable isotope analysis and SIBER to assess changes in the structure of coastal marine food webs in the South-western Atlantic through the second half of the Holocene as a result of the sequential exploitation of marine resources by hunter-gatherers, western sealers and modern fishermen. Samples were collected from shell middens and museums. Shells of both modern and archaeological intertidal herbivorous molluscs were used to reconstruct changes in the stable isotopic baseline, while modern and archaeological bones of the South American sea lion Otaria flavescens, South American fur seal Arctocephalus australis and Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus were used to analyse changes in the structure of the community of top predators. We found that ancient food webs were shorter, more redundant and more overlapping than current ones, both in northern-central Patagonia and southern Patagonia. These surprising results may be best explained by the huge impact of western sealing on pinnipeds during the fur trade period, rather than the impact of fishing on fish populations. As a consequence, the populations of pinnipeds at the end of the sealing period were likely well below the ecosystem's carrying capacity, which resulted in a release of intraspecific competition and a shift towards larger and higher trophic level prey. This in turn led to longer and less overlapping food webs.

  2. Current opinions: Zeros in host-parasite food webs: Are they real?

    PubMed

    Rossiter, Wayne

    2013-12-01

    As the data have poured in, and the number of published food webs containing parasites has increased, questions have been raised as to why free-living species consistently outnumber parasites, even though most general reviews on the subject of host:parasite species richness suggest the contrary. Here, I describe this pattern as it exists in the literature, posit both real and artifactual sources of these findings, and suggest ways that we might interpret existing parasite-inclusive food webs. In large part, the reporting of free-living species devoid of any associated parasites (termed here in the coding of food web matrices as "zeros") is a consequence of either sampling issues or the intent of the study. However, there are also several powerful explanatory features that validate real cases of this phenomenon. Some hosts appear to authentically lack parasitism in portions of their geographic ranges, and parasites are often lost from systems that are either in early phases of community re-colonization or are compromised by environmental perturbation. Additionally, multi-stage parasite life cycles and broad host spectra allow some parasite species to partially saturate systems without providing a corresponding increase in parasite species richness, leading to low parasite species richness values relative to the free-living community. On the whole, the existing published food webs are sufficient to, at least in principle, determine basic patterns and pathways associated with parasite establishment and persistence in free-living communities because (1) for the purpose of those features, species rarity is roughly analogous to absence and (2) the existing data seem to suggest that the addition of more parasite taxa would reinforce the patterns already observed. This is particularly true for helminth parasites, in which our understanding and the resolution of our work is most robust.

  3. Organochlorine compounds in Lake Superior: Chiral polychlorinated biphenyls and biotransformation in the aquatic food web

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Wong, Charles S.; Mabury, Scott A.; Whittle, D. Michael; Backus, Sean M.; Teixeira, Camilla; DeVault, David S.; Bronte, Charles R.; Muir, Derek C.G.

    2004-01-01

    The enantiomeric composition of seven chiral PCB congeners was measured in the Lake Superior aquatic food web sampled in 1998, to determine the extent of enantioselective biotransformation in aquatic biota. All chiral PCB congeners studied (CBs 91, 95, 136, 149, 174, 176, and 183) biomagnified in the Lake Superior aquatic food web, based on biomagnification and food web magnification factors greater than unity. PCB atropisomers were racemic in phytoplankton and zooplankton, suggesting no biotransformation potential toward PCBs for these low trophic level organisms. However, Diporeia and mysids had significantly nonracemic residues for most chiral congeners studied. This observation suggests that these macrozooplankton can stereoselectively metabolize chiral congeners. Alternatively, macrozooplankton obtained nonracemic residues from feeding on organic-rich suspended particles and sediments, which would imply that stereoselective microbial PCB biotransformation may be occurring in Lake Superior sediments at PCB concentrations far lower than that previously associated with such activity. Widely nonracemic PCB residues in forage fish (lake herring, rainbow smelt, and slimy sculpin) and lake trout suggest a combination of both in vivo biotransformation and uptake of nonracemic residues from prey for these species. Minimum biotransformation rates, calculated from enantiomer mass balances between predators and prey, suggest metabolic half-lives on the order of 8 yr for CB 136 in lake trout and 2.6 yr for CB 95 in sculpins. This result suggests that significant biotransformation may occur for metaboliz able PCB congeners over the lifespan of these biota. This study highlights the potential of chiral analysis to study biotransformation processes in food webs.

  4. Longer and Less Overlapping Food Webs in Anthropogenically Disturbed Marine Ecosystems: Confirmations from the Past

    PubMed Central

    Saporiti, Fabiana; Bearhop, Stuart; Silva, Laura; Vales, Damián G.; Zenteno, Lisette; Crespo, Enrique A.; Aguilar, Alex; Cardona, Luis

    2014-01-01

    The human exploitation of marine resources is characterised by the preferential removal of the largest species. Although this is expected to modify the structure of food webs, we have a relatively poor understanding of the potential consequences of such alteration. Here, we take advantage of a collection of ancient consumer tissues, using stable isotope analysis and SIBER to assess changes in the structure of coastal marine food webs in the South-western Atlantic through the second half of the Holocene as a result of the sequential exploitation of marine resources by hunter-gatherers, western sealers and modern fishermen. Samples were collected from shell middens and museums. Shells of both modern and archaeological intertidal herbivorous molluscs were used to reconstruct changes in the stable isotopic baseline, while modern and archaeological bones of the South American sea lion Otaria flavescens, South American fur seal Arctocephalus australis and Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus were used to analyse changes in the structure of the community of top predators. We found that ancient food webs were shorter, more redundant and more overlapping than current ones, both in northern-central Patagonia and southern Patagonia. These surprising results may be best explained by the huge impact of western sealing on pinnipeds during the fur trade period, rather than the impact of fishing on fish populations. As a consequence, the populations of pinnipeds at the end of the sealing period were likely well below the ecosystem's carrying capacity, which resulted in a release of intraspecific competition and a shift towards larger and higher trophic level prey. This in turn led to longer and less overlapping food webs. PMID:25076042

  5. Food webs of two intermittently open estuaries receiving 15N-enriched sewage effluent

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hadwen, Wade L.; Arthington, Angela H.

    2007-01-01

    Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures were used to assess the response of food webs to sewage effluent discharged into two small intermittently open estuaries in northern New South Wales, Australia. One of these systems, Tallows Creek, has a history of direct sewage inputs, whilst the other, Belongil Creek, receives wastewater via an extensive wetland treatment system. The food webs of both systems were driven by algal sources of carbon, reflecting high autotrophic productivity in response to the nutrients entering the system from sewage effluent. All aquatic biota collected from Tallows Creek had significantly enriched δ15N signatures relative to their conspecifics from Belongil Creek, indicating that sewage nitrogen had been assimilated and transferred throughout the Tallows Creek food web. These δ15N values were higher than those reported from studies in permanently open estuaries receiving sewage effluent. We suggest that these enriched signatures and the transfer of nitrogen throughout the entire food web reflect differences in hydrology and associated nitrogen cycling processes between permanently open and intermittently open estuaries. Although all organisms in Tallows Creek were generally 15N-enriched, isotopically light (less 15N-enriched) individuals of estuary perchlet ( Ambassis marianus) and sea mullet ( Mugil cephalus) were also collected. These individuals were most likely recent immigrants into Tallows Creek, as this system had only recently been opened to the ocean. This isotopic discrimination between resident (enriched) and immigrant (significantly less enriched) individuals can provide information on fish movement patterns and the role of heavily polluted intermittently open estuaries in supporting commercially and recreationally valuable estuarine species.

  6. Benthic and pelagic pathways of methylmercury bioaccumulation in estuarine food webs of the northeast United States.

    PubMed

    Chen, Celia Y; Borsuk, Mark E; Bugge, Deenie M; Hollweg, Terill; Balcom, Prentiss H; Ward, Darren M; Williams, Jason; Mason, Robert P

    2014-01-01

    Methylmercury (MeHg) is a contaminant of global concern that bioaccumulates and bioamagnifies in marine food webs. Lower trophic level fauna are important conduits of MeHg from sediment and water to estuarine and coastal fish harvested for human consumption. However, the sources and pathways of MeHg to these coastal fisheries are poorly known particularly the potential for transfer of MeHg from the sediment to biotic compartments. Across a broad gradient of human land impacts, we analyzed MeHg concentrations in food webs at ten estuarine sites in the Northeast US (from the Hackensack Meadowlands, NJ to the Gulf of Maine). MeHg concentrations in water column particulate material, but not in sediments, were predictive of MeHg concentrations in fish (killifish and Atlantic silversides). Moreover, MeHg concentrations were higher in pelagic fauna than in benthic-feeding fauna suggesting that MeHg delivery to the water column from methylation sites from within or outside of the estuary may be an important driver of MeHg bioaccumulation in estuarine pelagic food webs. In contrast, bulk sediment MeHg concentrations were only predictive of concentrations of MeHg in the infaunal worms. Our results across a broad gradient of sites demonstrate that the pathways of MeHg to lower trophic level estuarine organisms are distinctly different between benthic deposit feeders and forage fish. Thus, even in systems with contaminated sediments, transfer of MeHg into estuarine food webs maybe driven more by the efficiency of processes that determine MeHg input and bioavailability in the water column.

  7. Temporal variation in regulation of production in a pelagic food web model

    SciTech Connect

    Bartell, S.M.; Brenkert, A.L.; O'Neill, R.V.; Gardner, R.H.

    1987-01-01

    We examined the implications of differential resource use and predator-prey relations in a seasonal environment, formalized as a pelagic food web model, on temporal changes in the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down structuring of the phytoplankton. Detailed analyses of the model's behavior were used to identify periods when control of production shifted from interspecific interactions among the phytoplankton to cascading trophic interactions.

  8. Longer and less overlapping food webs in anthropogenically disturbed marine ecosystems: confirmations from the past.

    PubMed

    Saporiti, Fabiana; Bearhop, Stuart; Silva, Laura; Vales, Damián G; Zenteno, Lisette; Crespo, Enrique A; Aguilar, Alex; Cardona, Luis

    2014-01-01

    The human exploitation of marine resources is characterised by the preferential removal of the largest species. Although this is expected to modify the structure of food webs, we have a relatively poor understanding of the potential consequences of such alteration. Here, we take advantage of a collection of ancient consumer tissues, using stable isotope analysis and SIBER to assess changes in the structure of coastal marine food webs in the South-western Atlantic through the second half of the Holocene as a result of the sequential exploitation of marine resources by hunter-gatherers, western sealers and modern fishermen. Samples were collected from shell middens and museums. Shells of both modern and archaeological intertidal herbivorous molluscs were used to reconstruct changes in the stable isotopic baseline, while modern and archaeological bones of the South American sea lion Otaria flavescens, South American fur seal Arctocephalus australis and Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus were used to analyse changes in the structure of the community of top predators. We found that ancient food webs were shorter, more redundant and more overlapping than current ones, both in northern-central Patagonia and southern Patagonia. These surprising results may be best explained by the huge impact of western sealing on pinnipeds during the fur trade period, rather than the impact of fishing on fish populations. As a consequence, the populations of pinnipeds at the end of the sealing period were likely well below the ecosystem's carrying capacity, which resulted in a release of intraspecific competition and a shift towards larger and higher trophic level prey. This in turn led to longer and less overlapping food webs. PMID:25076042

  9. Roles of epiphytes associated with macroalgae in benthic food web of a eutrophic coastal lagoon

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zheng, Xinqing; Huang, Lingfeng; Lin, Rongcheng; Du, Jianguo

    2015-11-01

    Macroalgae perform a significant function in the trophic dynamics in many coastal lagoons, and conventionally, they are the key trophic base that fuels the overall aquatic food web. However, few studies have considered the trophic contribution of epiphytes that attach to macroalgae in the diet of benthic primary consumers or their contribution to the trophic base of the aquatic food web. In this study, macrobenthic invertebrate biomass was combined with multiple-isotope-mixing models to distinguish the trophic importance of macroalgae and their associated epiphytic assemblages in the benthic food web during Ulva lactuca bloom in the Yundang Lagoon, a eutrophic coastal lagoon in Xiamen, China. Amphipods primarily dominated the zoobenthos, with the biomass varied from 40.9 g/m2 in January to 283.9 g/m2 in March. They mainly fed on U. lactuca and its associated epiphytes, which jointly contributed more than 60% to amphipod diets, but species-specific feeding habits were exhibited among amphipods. Using the zoobenthos biomass as a weighting factor, the contribution of U. lactuca and its epiphytes to total benthic communities during U. lactuca bloom exceeded 65%.The epiphytes were clearly utilized more than U. lactuca, with a median contribution ranging from 48.5% in January to 66.6% in March. Our findings demonstrate the trophic importance of the epiphytes in macroalgae-based coastal habitats, as found in many seagrass beds. Therefore, we propose that further food web studies of macroalgae-based ecosystems should pay greater attention to the role of epiphytes.

  10. Fatty acids as biomarkers for food web structure in the eastern North Pacific Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Behrens, J.; Aluwihare, L.; Stephens, B. M.

    2015-12-01

    Resulting from a NSF funded REU program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2015, this research utilized gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to analyze the fatty acid composition of suspended particulate organic matter (POM) and zooplankton (ZP; primarily copepods). Samples analyzed for this study were collected simultaneously from surface waters approximately 9 miles off the coast of San Diego in June 2015. I was testing the hypothesis that essential fatty acids in ZP should reflect their diet, in particular, distinguishing contributions from a microbial versus traditional food web. Food web structure in this region of the ocean has been shown to be sensitive to climate change on inter-annual and longer timescales. Thus, a proxy that identifies restructuring of food webs would be useful for examining the response of ocean ecosystems to future climate change. Lipids were extracted from ZP and POM using a modified Bligh and Dyer method with sonication. Following saponification free fatty acids and other lipids were further purified using column chromatography. Polar functional groups in lipids were then methylated prior to GC-MS analysis. In addition, 2-dimensional GCxGC with time of flight MS was used to distinguish polyunsaturated fatty acid isomers. My poster will present initial findings of shared fatty acids of zooplankton and POM suspended material from the Northern Pacific collection site. Further research will be focused on analyzing the hydrogen isotope composition of fatty acids in zooplankton and suspended DOM obtained at the collection site to further characterize and increase certainty on the role of microbes and phytoplankton in the region's food-web to distinguish prokaryotic and eukaryotic sources.

  11. Current opinions: Zeros in host–parasite food webs: Are they real?☆

    PubMed Central

    Rossiter, Wayne

    2013-01-01

    As the data have poured in, and the number of published food webs containing parasites has increased, questions have been raised as to why free-living species consistently outnumber parasites, even though most general reviews on the subject of host:parasite species richness suggest the contrary. Here, I describe this pattern as it exists in the literature, posit both real and artifactual sources of these findings, and suggest ways that we might interpret existing parasite-inclusive food webs. In large part, the reporting of free-living species devoid of any associated parasites (termed here in the coding of food web matrices as “zeros”) is a consequence of either sampling issues or the intent of the study. However, there are also several powerful explanatory features that validate real cases of this phenomenon. Some hosts appear to authentically lack parasitism in portions of their geographic ranges, and parasites are often lost from systems that are either in early phases of community re-colonization or are compromised by environmental perturbation. Additionally, multi-stage parasite life cycles and broad host spectra allow some parasite species to partially saturate systems without providing a corresponding increase in parasite species richness, leading to low parasite species richness values relative to the free-living community. On the whole, the existing published food webs are sufficient to, at least in principle, determine basic patterns and pathways associated with parasite establishment and persistence in free-living communities because (1) for the purpose of those features, species rarity is roughly analogous to absence and (2) the existing data seem to suggest that the addition of more parasite taxa would reinforce the patterns already observed. This is particularly true for helminth parasites, in which our understanding and the resolution of our work is most robust. PMID:24533341

  12. Benthic and Pelagic Pathways of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Estuarine Food Webs of the Northeast United States

    PubMed Central

    Chen, Celia Y.; Borsuk, Mark E.; Bugge, Deenie M.; Hollweg, Terill; Balcom, Prentiss H.; Ward, Darren M.; Williams, Jason; Mason, Robert P.

    2014-01-01

    Methylmercury (MeHg) is a contaminant of global concern that bioaccumulates and bioamagnifies in marine food webs. Lower trophic level fauna are important conduits of MeHg from sediment and water to estuarine and coastal fish harvested for human consumption. However, the sources and pathways of MeHg to these coastal fisheries are poorly known particularly the potential for transfer of MeHg from the sediment to biotic compartments. Across a broad gradient of human land impacts, we analyzed MeHg concentrations in food webs at ten estuarine sites in the Northeast US (from the Hackensack Meadowlands, NJ to the Gulf of Maine). MeHg concentrations in water column particulate material, but not in sediments, were predictive of MeHg concentrations in fish (killifish and Atlantic silversides). Moreover, MeHg concentrations were higher in pelagic fauna than in benthic-feeding fauna suggesting that MeHg delivery to the water column from methylation sites from within or outside of the estuary may be an important driver of MeHg bioaccumulation in estuarine pelagic food webs. In contrast, bulk sediment MeHg concentrations were only predictive of concentrations of MeHg in the infaunal worms. Our results across a broad gradient of sites demonstrate that the pathways of MeHg to lower trophic level estuarine organisms are distinctly different between benthic deposit feeders and forage fish. Thus, even in systems with contaminated sediments, transfer of MeHg into estuarine food webs maybe driven more by the efficiency of processes that determine MeHg input and bioavailability in the water column. PMID:24558491

  13. Success and its limits among structural models of complex food webs.

    PubMed

    Williams, Richard J; Martinez, Neo D

    2008-05-01

    1. Following the development of the relatively successful niche model, several other simple structural food web models have been proposed. These models predict the detailed structure of complex food webs given only two input parameters, the numbers of species and the number of feeding links among them. 2. The models claim different degrees of success but have not been compared consistently with each other or with the empirical data. We compared the performance of five structural models rigorously against 10 empirical food webs from a variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats containing 25-92 species and 68-997 links. 3. All models include near-hierarchical ordering of species' consumption and have identical distributions of the number of prey of each consumer species, but differ in the extent to which species' diets are required to be contiguous and the rules used to assign feeding links. 4. The models perform similarly on a range of food-web properties, including the fraction of top, intermediate and basal species, the standard deviations of generality and connectivity and the fraction of herbivores and omnivores. 5. For other properties, including the standard deviation of vulnerability, the fraction of cannibals and species in loops, mean trophic level, path length, clustering coefficient, maximum similarity and diet discontinuity, there are significant differences in the performance of the different models. 6. While the empirical data do not support the niche model's assumption of diet contiguity, models which relax this assumption all have worse overall performance than the niche model. All the models under-estimate severely the fraction of species that are herbivores and exhibit other important failures that need to be addressed in future research.

  14. Using food web dominator trees to catch secondary extinctions in action

    PubMed Central

    Bodini, Antonio; Bellingeri, Michele; Allesina, Stefano; Bondavalli, Cristina

    2009-01-01

    In ecosystems, a single extinction event can give rise to multiple ‘secondary’ extinctions. Conservation effort would benefit from tools that help forecast the consequences of species removal. One such tool is the dominator tree, a graph-theoretic algorithm that when applied to food webs unfolds their complex architecture, yielding a simpler topology made of linear pathways that are essential for energy delivery. Each species along these chains is responsible for passing energy to the taxa that follow it and, as such, it is indispensable for their survival. To assess the predictive potential of the dominator tree, we compare its predictions with the effects that followed the collapse of the capelin (Mallotus villosus) in the Barents Sea ecosystem. To this end, we first compiled a food web for this ecosystem, then we built the corresponding dominator tree and, finally, we observed whether model predictions matched the empirical observations. This analysis shows the potential and the drawbacks of the dominator trees as a tool for understanding the causes and consequences of extinctions in food webs. PMID:19451123

  15. Spatial complexity reduces interaction strengths in the meta-food web of a river floodplain mosaic

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bellmore, James Ryan; Baxter, Colden Vance; Connolly, Patrick J.

    2015-01-01

    Theory states that both the spatial complexity of landscapes and the strength of interactions between consumers and their resources are important for maintaining biodiversity and the 'balance of nature.' Spatial complexity is hypothesized to promote biodiversity by reducing potential for competitive exclusion; whereas, models show weak trophic interactions can enhance stability and maintain biodiversity by dampening destabilizing oscillations associated with strong interactions. Here we show that spatial complexity can reduce the strength of consumer-resource interactions in natural food webs. By sequentially aggregating food webs of individual aquatic habitat patches across a floodplain mosaic, we found that increasing spatial complexity resulted in decreases in the strength of interactions between predators and prey, owing to a greater proportion of weak interactions and a reduced proportion of strong interactions in the meta-food web. The main mechanism behind this pattern was that some patches provided predation refugia for species which were often strongly preyed upon in other patches. If weak trophic interactions do indeed promote stability, then our findings may signal an additional mechanism by which complexity and stability are linked in nature. In turn, this may have implications for how the values of landscape complexity, and the costs of biophysical homogenization, are assessed.

  16. Carbon fluxes through food webs of the eastern equatorial Pacific: an inverse approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Richardson, Tammi L.; Jackson, George A.; Ducklow, Hugh W.; Roman, Michael R.

    2004-09-01

    We used inverse and network analyses to examine food web interactions at 0°, 140°W during EqPac time-series cruises in March-April and October 1992. Our goal was to characterize carbon flows and trophic transfers while synthesizing the available information into a complete picture of ecosystem dynamics. The inverse approach allowed us to trace the pathway of fixed carbon through a representative food web and to characterize the role of various food web components in the recycling of carbon within, and export of carbon from, the euphotic zone. The key findings of these analyses were: (1) primary production of the larger phytoplankton size classes was most often dominated by the prymnesiophytes and pelagophytes and not by the diatoms, (2) picoplankton primary production was not always balanced by protozoan and microzooplankton grazing, despite conventional views of balanced microbial producer/grazer interactions in this system, (3) the picoplankton played an important direct + indirect role in the export of carbon from the euphotic zone through a pathway involving production of detritus from picoplankton carbon and subsequent grazing of this picoplankton-based detritus by the mesozooplankton, and (4) export of carbon through consumption of mesozooplankton by higher trophic levels was of the same magnitude as DOC export (9-25 mmol C m -2 d -1), yet this pathway is rarely considered in equatorial carbon balances.

  17. Motif analysis in directed ordered networks and applications to food webs

    PubMed Central

    Paulau, Pavel V.; Feenders, Christoph; Blasius, Bernd

    2015-01-01

    The analysis of small recurrent substructures, so called network motifs, has become a standard tool of complex network science to unveil the design principles underlying the structure of empirical networks. In many natural systems network nodes are associated with an intrinsic property according to which they can be ordered and compared against each other. Here, we expand standard motif analysis to be able to capture the hierarchical structure in such ordered networks. Our new approach is based on the identification of all ordered 3-node substructures and the visualization of their significance profile. We present a technique to calculate the fine grained motif spectrum by resolving the individual members of isomorphism classes (sets of substructures formed by permuting node-order). We apply this technique to computer generated ensembles of ordered networks and to empirical food web data, demonstrating the importance of considering node order for food-web analysis. Our approach may not only be helpful to identify hierarchical patterns in empirical food webs and other natural networks, it may also provide the base for extending motif analysis to other types of multi-layered networks. PMID:26144248

  18. Tracing Fluxes Of Aquatic Production And Contaminants Into Terrestrial Food Webs With Nitrogen Stable Isotopes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rivard, A.; Cabana, G.; Rainey, W.; Power, M.

    2005-05-01

    Biomagnifying contaminants such as mercury can be transported and redistributed across the watershed by streams and rivers. Their fate and effects on consumers depend on food web transfer both within and between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The Truckee River (Ca/Ne) is heavily contaminated by Hg originating from century-old upstream mining operations. We used nitrogen stable isotope analysis to trace the incorporation of Hg transported by the Truckee and transferred by emerging aquatic insects into the riparian food web. N-isotope ratios and Hg of aquatic primary consumers were significantly elevated compared to that of terrestrial arthropods (13.3 vs 5.6 % and 110 vs 17 ngg-1). Estimates of dependence on aquatics in 16 riparian passerine bird species based on blood delta 15N ranged between 0.0 and 0.95 and were significantly related to Hg in blood. Similar correlations between Hg and delta 15N measured in tail tips of western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) collected at increasing distances from the river were observed. High inter-individual variation in bird Hg was highly correlated with delta 15N. These results show how stable isotopes and contaminant fluxes can reveal important food web linkages across aquatic/terrestrial ecotones.

  19. Transient dynamics and food-web complexity in the Lotka-Volterra cascade model.

    PubMed

    Chen, X; Cohen, J E

    2001-04-22

    How does the long-term behaviour near equilibrium of model food webs correlate with their short-term transient dynamics? Here, simulations of the Lotka -Volterra cascade model of food webs provide the first evidence to answer this question. Transient behaviour is measured by resilience, reactivity, the maximum amplification of a perturbation and the time at which the maximum amplification occurs. Model food webs with a higher probability of local asymptotic stability may be less resilient and may have a larger transient growth of perturbations. Given a fixed connectance, the sizes and durations of transient responses to perturbations increase with the number of species. Given a fixed number of species, as connectance increases, the sizes and durations of transient responses to perturbations may increase or decrease depending on the type of link that is varied. Reactivity is more sensitive to changes in the number of donor-controlled links than to changes in the number of recipient-controlled links, while resilience is more sensitive to changes in the number of recipient-controlled links than to changes in the number of donor-controlled links. Transient behaviour is likely to be one of the important factors affecting the persistence of ecological communities.

  20. Metamorphosis alters contaminants and chemical tracers in insects: implications for food webs.

    PubMed

    Kraus, Johanna M; Walters, David M; Wesner, Jeff S; Stricker, Craig A; Schmidt, Travis S; Zuellig, Robert E

    2014-09-16

    Insects are integral to most freshwater and terrestrial food webs, but due to their accumulation of environmental pollutants they are also contaminant vectors that threaten reproduction, development, and survival of consumers. Metamorphosis from larvae to adult can cause large chemical changes in insects, altering contaminant concentrations and fractionation of chemical tracers used to establish contaminant biomagnification in food webs, but no framework exists for predicting and managing these effects. We analyzed data from 39 studies of 68 analytes (stable isotopes and contaminants), and found that metamorphosis effects varied greatly. δ(15)N, widely used to estimate relative trophic position in biomagnification studies, was enriched by ∼ 1‰ during metamorphosis, while δ(13)C used to estimate diet, was similar in larvae and adults. Metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were predominantly lost during metamorphosis leading to ∼ 2 to 125-fold higher larval concentrations and higher exposure risks for predators of larvae compared to predators of adults. In contrast, manufactured organic contaminants (such as polychlorinated biphenyls) were retained and concentrated in adults, causing up to ∼ 3-fold higher adult concentrations and higher exposure risks to predators of adult insects. Both food web studies and contaminant management and mitigation strategies need to consider how metamorphosis affects the movement of materials between habitats and ecosystems, with special regard for aquatic-terrestrial linkages.

  1. Evolution mediates the effects of apex predation on aquatic food webs.

    PubMed

    Urban, Mark C

    2013-07-22

    Ecological and evolutionary mechanisms are increasingly thought to shape local community dynamics. Here, I evaluate if the local adaptation of a meso-predator to an apex predator alters local food webs. The marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) is an apex predator that consumes both the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) and shared zooplankton prey. Common garden experiments reveal that spotted salamander populations which co-occur with marbled salamanders forage more intensely than those that face other predator species. These foraging differences, in turn, alter the diversity, abundance and composition of zooplankton communities in common garden experiments and natural ponds. Locally adapted spotted salamanders exacerbate prey biomass declines associated with apex predation, but dampen the top-down effects of apex predation on prey diversity. Countergradient selection on foraging explains why locally adapted spotted salamanders exacerbate prey biomass declines. The two salamander species prefer different prey species, which explains why adapted spotted salamanders buffer changes in prey composition owing to apex predation. Results suggest that local adaptation can strongly mediate effects from apex predation on local food webs. Community ecologists might often need to consider the evolutionary history of populations to understand local diversity patterns, food web dynamics, resource gradients and their responses to disturbance.

  2. On the interplay of speciation and dispersal: an evolutionary food web model in space.

    PubMed

    Allhoff, Korinna T; Weiel, Eva Marie; Rogge, Tobias; Drossel, Barbara

    2015-02-01

    We introduce an evolutionary metacommunity of multitrophic food webs on several habitats coupled by migration. In contrast to previous studies that focus either on evolutionary or on spatial aspects, we include both and investigate the interplay between them. Locally, the species emerge, interact and go extinct according to the rules of the well-known evolutionary food web model proposed by Loeuille and Loreau (2005). Additionally, species are able to migrate between the habitats. With random migration, we are able to reproduce common trends in diversity-dispersal relationships: Regional diversity decreases with increasing migration rates, whereas local diversity can increase in case of a low level of dispersal. Moreover, we find that the total biomasses in the different patches become similar even when species composition remains different. With adaptive migration, we observe species compositions that differ considerably between patches and contain species that are descendant from ancestors on both patches. This result indicates that the combination of spatial aspects and evolutionary processes affects the structure of food webs in different ways than each of them alone.

  3. Motif analysis in directed ordered networks and applications to food webs.

    PubMed

    Paulau, Pavel V; Feenders, Christoph; Blasius, Bernd

    2015-01-01

    The analysis of small recurrent substructures, so called network motifs, has become a standard tool of complex network science to unveil the design principles underlying the structure of empirical networks. In many natural systems network nodes are associated with an intrinsic property according to which they can be ordered and compared against each other. Here, we expand standard motif analysis to be able to capture the hierarchical structure in such ordered networks. Our new approach is based on the identification of all ordered 3-node substructures and the visualization of their significance profile. We present a technique to calculate the fine grained motif spectrum by resolving the individual members of isomorphism classes (sets of substructures formed by permuting node-order). We apply this technique to computer generated ensembles of ordered networks and to empirical food web data, demonstrating the importance of considering node order for food-web analysis. Our approach may not only be helpful to identify hierarchical patterns in empirical food webs and other natural networks, it may also provide the base for extending motif analysis to other types of multi-layered networks.

  4. Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds in lake food webs from the Canadian high Arctic.

    PubMed

    Lescord, Gretchen L; Kidd, Karen A; De Silva, Amila O; Williamson, Mary; Spencer, Christine; Wang, Xiaowa; Muir, Derek C G

    2015-03-01

    Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) enter Arctic lakes through long-range atmospheric transport and local contamination, but their behavior in aquatic food webs at high latitudes is poorly understood. This study compared the concentrations of perfluorocarboxylates, perfluorosulfonates, and fluorotelomer sulfonates (FTS) in biotic and abiotic samples from six high Arctic lakes near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. Two of these lakes are known to be locally contaminated by a small airport and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) from these lakes had over 100 times higher total [PFAS] when compared to fish from neighboring lakes. Perfluorononanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) dominated in char, benthic chironomids (their main prey), and sediments, while pelagic zooplankton and water were dominated by lower chain acids and perfluorodecanesulfonate (PFDS). This study also provides the first measures of perfluoroethylcyclohexanesulfonate (PFECHS) and FTS compounds in water, sediment, juvenile char, and benthic invertebrates from lakes in the high Arctic. Negative relationships between [PFAS] and δ(15)N values (indicative of trophic position) within these food webs indicated no biomagnification. Overall, these results suggest that habitat use and local sources of contamination, but not trophic level, are important determinants of [PFAS] in biota from freshwater food webs in the Canadian Arctic.

  5. Stable isotopes and organochlorines in the food webs of Lakes Baikal and Superior

    SciTech Connect

    Kucklick, J.R.; Baker, J.E.; Ostrom, N.E.; Ostrom, P.H.; Lee, D.S.

    1994-12-31

    Quantifying organochlorine biomagnification in aquatic ecosystems is traditionally accomplished by assigning discreet trophic levels, which does not adequately describe feeding relationships except in well defined systems. {delta}{sup 15}N and {delta}{sup 13}C, particularly {delta}{sup 15}N values, measured in aquatic food webs provide additional information on trophic position such that it may be treated as a continuous variable. To evaluate this technique, samples were collected from the pelagic zone of Lake Baikal in August and September, 1993 for organochlorine (PCBs, DDTs, chlordanes and HCHS) and stable isotope ({delta}{sup 13}C and {delta}{sup 15}N) analyzed. These included high volume water samples, seston, net plankton, two species of pelagic sculpin Comephorus dybowskii, C. baikalensis, the omul, (Coregonus autumnalis migratorious), and 9 seal (Phoca siberica) samples of known sex and age. Food web samples from Lake Superior will be collected in June, 1994 to include benthic infauna, sculpins, Mysis and surface phytoplankton and zooplankton. Results from this study will provide a comparison of organochlorine trophodynamics between a system with a predominant pelagic food web (Lake Baikal) to one with substantial benthic/pelagic coupling (Lake Superior).

  6. Function and Food Webs of Springs Near Treeline in the Swiss National Park

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Robinson, C. T.; Schmid, D.; Svoboda, M.

    2005-05-01

    We investigated ecosystem function and food web structure of high elevation springs in the Swiss National Park. Functional characteristics were derived from measures of ecosystem metabolism, sediment respiration, and nutrient uptake experiments in 4 springs. Food webs were assessed using stable isotope analysis (C, N) of different ecosystem compartments from 20 springs encompassing 6 different spring types. Gross primary production (GPP) ranged from 2.4 to 4.3 g O2 m-2 d-1 and ecosystem respiration (ER) from 3.6 to 6.7 g O2 m-2 d-1, suggesting springs were net-heterotrophic (P/R<0.75). One iron-oxide rich spring had GPP = 65 and ER = 96 g O2 m-2 d-1. Bacterial abundances (DAPI) ranged from 2-3×108 cells/ml, and benthic sediments were mostly anaerobic. Uptake lengths of both N and P were <50 m, with uptake rates of P at 0.3-3.1 mg m-2 h-1 and N at 57-178 mg m-2 h-1, suggesting springs were important nutrient sinks. Food webs were simple (<8 taxa) and primarily detritus based. The dominate stonefly predator relied on instream production of invertebrates. Terrestrial predators (lycosid spiders) near springs fed on a terrestrial diet. These data suggest these springs derive most of their energy from allochthonous sources and are net-heterotrophic ecosystems.

  7. Land Use Affects Carbon Sources to the Pelagic Food Web in a Small Boreal Lake

    PubMed Central

    Rinta, Päivi; van Hardenbroek, Maarten; Jones, Roger I.; Kankaala, Paula; Rey, Fabian; Szidat, Sönke; Wooller, Matthew J.; Heiri, Oliver

    2016-01-01

    Small humic forest lakes often have high contributions of methane-derived carbon in their food webs but little is known about the temporal stability of this carbon pathway and how it responds to environmental changes on longer time scales. We reconstructed past variations in the contribution of methanogenic carbon in the pelagic food web of a small boreal lake in Finland by analyzing the stable carbon isotopic composition (δ13C values) of chitinous fossils of planktivorous invertebrates in sediments from the lake. The δ13C values of zooplankton remains show several marked shifts (approx. 10 ‰), consistent with changes in the proportional contribution of carbon from methane-oxidizing bacteria in zooplankton diets. The results indicate that the lake only recently (1950s) obtained its present state with a high contribution of methanogenic carbon to the pelagic food web. A comparison with historical and palaeobotanical evidence indicates that this most recent shift coincided with agricultural land-use changes and forestation of the lake catchment and implies that earlier shifts may also have been related to changes in forest and land use. Our study demonstrates the sensitivity of the carbon cycle in small forest lakes to external forcing and that the effects of past changes in local land use on lacustrine carbon cycling have to be taken into account when defining environmental and ecological reference conditions in boreal headwater lakes. PMID:27487044

  8. PCB Food Web Dynamics Quantify Nutrient and Energy Flow in Aquatic Ecosystems.

    PubMed

    McLeod, Anne M; Paterson, Gordon; Drouillard, Ken G; Haffner, G Douglas

    2015-11-01

    Measuring in situ nutrient and energy flows in spatially and temporally complex aquatic ecosystems represents a major ecological challenge. Food web structure, energy and nutrient budgets are difficult to measure, and it is becoming more important to quantify both energy and nutrient flow to determine how food web processes and structure are being modified by multiple stressors. We propose that polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners represent an ideal tracer to quantify in situ energy and nutrient flow between trophic levels. Here, we demonstrate how an understanding of PCB congener bioaccumulation dynamics provides multiple direct measurements of energy and nutrient flow in aquatic food webs. To demonstrate this novel approach, we quantified nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and caloric turnover rates for Lake Huron lake trout, and reveal how these processes are regulated by both growth rate and fish life history. Although minimal nutrient recycling was observed in young growing fish, slow growing, older lake trout (>5 yr) recycled an average of 482 Tonnes·yr(-1) of N, 45 Tonnes·yr(-1) of P and assimilated 22 TJ yr(-1) of energy. Compared to total P loading rates of 590 Tonnes·yr(-1), the recycling of primarily bioavailable nutrients by fish plays an important role regulating the nutrient states of oligotrophic lakes.

  9. Trophic magnification of poly- and perfluorinated compounds in a subtropical food web.

    PubMed

    Loi, Eva I H; Yeung, Leo W Y; Taniyasu, Sachi; Lam, Paul K S; Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Yamashita, Nobuyoshi

    2011-07-01

    Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are known to biomagnify in temperate and Arctic food webs, but little is known about their behavior in subtropical systems. The environmental distribution and biomagnification of PFCs, extractable organic fluorine (EOF), and total fluorine were investigated in a subtropical food web. Surface water, sediment, phytoplankton, zooplankton, gastropods, worms, shrimps, fishes, and waterbirds collected in the Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve in Hong Kong were analyzed. Trophic magnification was observed for perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorodecanoate (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnDA), and perfluorododecanoate (PFDoDA) in this food web. Risk assessment results for PFOS, PFDA, and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) suggest that current PFC concentrations in waterbird livers are unlikely to pose adverse biological effects to waterbirds. All hazard ratio (HR) values reported for PFOS and PFOA are less than one, which suggests that the detected levels will not cause any immediate health effects to the Hong Kong population through the consumption of shrimps and fishes. However, only 10-12% of the EOF in the shrimp samples was comprised of known PFCs, indicating the need for further investigation to identify unknown fluorinated compounds in wildlife.

  10. Trophic transfer of dechloranes in the marine food web of Liaodong Bay, north China.

    PubMed

    Peng, Hui; Wan, Yi; Zhang, Kun; Sun, Jianxian; Hu, Jianying

    2014-05-20

    Dechloranes are of particular concern because of their ubiquity in environmental matrices, but little is known about their trophic transfer in aquatic food web. This study investigated the trophic transfer of seven dechloranes in a marine food web from Liaodong Bay, China. Dechloranes were determined in sediments and 15 marine species including benthic invertebrates, fish and gulls collected from Liaodong Bay. Biomagnification factors (BMFTL) of dechloranes in black-headed gulls were calculated to be 6.4, 1.7, 0.45, 0.36, 0.14, and 0.11 for mirex, Dechlorane 602 (Dec 602), Dechlorane 603 (Dec 603), antiundecachloropentacyclooctadecadiene (anti-Cl11DP), syn-dechlorane plus (syn-DP), and anti-DP. Significantly positive relationships were found between lipid equivalent concentrations of mirex, Dec 602, and anti-Cl11DP and trophic levels, and the trophic magnification factors (TMFs) were 13, 3.7, and 5.6, respectively, indicating that these compounds undergo trophic magnification in the aquatic food web. Lipid equivalent concentrations of Dec 603 and DP isomers did not exhibit a statistically significant correlation with trophic levels. The relatively low trophic magnification potentials of Dec 603 and DP isomers were possibly due to their extreme hydrophobicity (logKOW: 11.2-11.3) and subsequent low bioavailabilities compared with mirex (7.0), Dec 602 (8.1) and anti-Cl11DP. The results provided important information for understanding the ecological risk of dechloranes.

  11. Using food web dominator trees to catch secondary extinctions in action.

    PubMed

    Bodini, Antonio; Bellingeri, Michele; Allesina, Stefano; Bondavalli, Cristina

    2009-06-27

    In ecosystems, a single extinction event can give rise to multiple 'secondary' extinctions. Conservation effort would benefit from tools that help forecast the consequences of species removal. One such tool is the dominator tree, a graph-theoretic algorithm that when applied to food webs unfolds their complex architecture, yielding a simpler topology made of linear pathways that are essential for energy delivery. Each species along these chains is responsible for passing energy to the taxa that follow it and, as such, it is indispensable for their survival. To assess the predictive potential of the dominator tree, we compare its predictions with the effects that followed the collapse of the capelin (Mallotus villosus) in the Barents Sea ecosystem. To this end, we first compiled a food web for this ecosystem, then we built the corresponding dominator tree and, finally, we observed whether model predictions matched the empirical observations. This analysis shows the potential and the drawbacks of the dominator trees as a tool for understanding the causes and consequences of extinctions in food webs. PMID:19451123

  12. Guano-Derived Nutrient Subsidies Drive Food Web Structure in Coastal Ponds.

    PubMed

    Vizzini, Salvatrice; Signa, Geraldina; Mazzola, Antonio

    2016-01-01

    A stable isotope study was carried out seasonally in three coastal ponds (Marinello system, Italy) affected by different gull guano input to investigate the effect of nutrient subsidies on food web structure and dynamics. A marked 15N enrichment occurred in the pond receiving the highest guano input, indicating that gull-derived fertilization (guanotrophication) had a strong localised effect and flowed across trophic levels. The main food web response to guanotrophication was an overall erosion of the benthic pathway in favour of the planktonic. Subsidized primary consumers, mostly deposit feeders, switched their diet according to organic matter source availability. Secondary consumers and, in particular, fish from the guanotrophic pond, acted as couplers of planktonic and benthic pathways and showed an omnivorous trophic behaviour. Food web structure showed substantial variability among ponds and a marked seasonality in the subsidized one: an overall simplification was evident only in summer when guano input maximises its trophic effects, while higher trophic diversity and complexity resulted when guano input was low to moderate. PMID:26953794

  13. Growth, feeding and ecological roles of the mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates in marine planktonic food webs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jeong, Hae Jin; Yoo, Yeong Du; Kim, Jae Seong; Seong, Kyeong Ah; Kang, Nam Seon; Kim, Tae Hoon

    2010-06-01

    Planktonic mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates are ubiquitous protists and often abundant in marine environments. Recently many phototrophic dinoflagellate species have been revealed to be mixotrophic organisms and also it is suggested that most dinoflagellates may be mixotrophic or heterotrophic protists. The mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates are able to feed on diverse prey items including bacteria, picoeukaryotes, nanoflagellates, diatoms, other dinoflagellates, heterotrophic protists, and metazoans due to their diverse feeding mechanisms. In turn they are ingested by many kinds of predators. Thus, the roles of the dinoflagellates in marine planktonic food webs are very diverse. The present paper reviewed the kind of prey which mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates are able to feed on, feeding mechanisms, growth and ingestion rates of dinoflagellates, grazing impact by dinoflagellate predators on natural prey populations, predators on dinoflagellates, and red tides dominated by dinoflagellates. Based on this information, we suggested a new marine planktonic food web focusing on mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates and provided an insight on the roles of dinoflagellates in the food web.

  14. Nitrogen Addition and Warming Independently Influence the Belowground Micro-Food Web in a Temperate Steppe

    PubMed Central

    Li, Qi; Bai, Huahua; Liang, Wenju; Xia, Jianyang; Wan, Shiqiang; van der Putten, Wim H.

    2013-01-01

    Climate warming and atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition are known to influence ecosystem structure and functioning. However, our understanding of the interactive effect of these global changes on ecosystem functioning is relatively limited, especially when it concerns the responses of soils and soil organisms. We conducted a field experiment to study the interactive effects of warming and N addition on soil food web. The experiment was established in 2006 in a temperate steppe in northern China. After three to four years (2009–2010), we found that N addition positively affected microbial biomass and negatively influenced trophic group and ecological indices of soil nematodes. However, the warming effects were less obvious, only fungal PLFA showed a decreasing trend under warming. Interestingly, the influence of N addition did not depend on warming. Structural equation modeling analysis suggested that the direct pathway between N addition and soil food web components were more important than the indirect connections through alterations in soil abiotic characters or plant growth. Nitrogen enrichment also affected the soil nematode community indirectly through changes in soil pH and PLFA. We conclude that experimental warming influenced soil food web components of the temperate steppe less than N addition, and there was little influence of warming on N addition effects under these experimental conditions. PMID:23544140

  15. Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds in lake food webs from the Canadian high Arctic.

    PubMed

    Lescord, Gretchen L; Kidd, Karen A; De Silva, Amila O; Williamson, Mary; Spencer, Christine; Wang, Xiaowa; Muir, Derek C G

    2015-03-01

    Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) enter Arctic lakes through long-range atmospheric transport and local contamination, but their behavior in aquatic food webs at high latitudes is poorly understood. This study compared the concentrations of perfluorocarboxylates, perfluorosulfonates, and fluorotelomer sulfonates (FTS) in biotic and abiotic samples from six high Arctic lakes near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. Two of these lakes are known to be locally contaminated by a small airport and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) from these lakes had over 100 times higher total [PFAS] when compared to fish from neighboring lakes. Perfluorononanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) dominated in char, benthic chironomids (their main prey), and sediments, while pelagic zooplankton and water were dominated by lower chain acids and perfluorodecanesulfonate (PFDS). This study also provides the first measures of perfluoroethylcyclohexanesulfonate (PFECHS) and FTS compounds in water, sediment, juvenile char, and benthic invertebrates from lakes in the high Arctic. Negative relationships between [PFAS] and δ(15)N values (indicative of trophic position) within these food webs indicated no biomagnification. Overall, these results suggest that habitat use and local sources of contamination, but not trophic level, are important determinants of [PFAS] in biota from freshwater food webs in the Canadian Arctic. PMID:25604756

  16. Metamorphosis alters contaminants and chemical tracers in insects: implications for food webs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kraus, Johanna M.; Walters, David M.; Wesner, Jeff S.; Stricker, Craig A.; Schmidt, Travis S.; Zuellig, Robert E.

    2014-01-01

    Insects are integral to most freshwater and terrestrial food webs, but due to their accumulation of environmental pollutants they are also contaminant vectors that threaten reproduction, development, and survival of consumers. Metamorphosis from larvae to adult can cause large chemical changes in insects, altering contaminant concentrations and fractionation of chemical tracers used to establish contaminant biomagnification in food webs, but no framework exists for predicting and managing these effects. We analyzed data from 39 studies of 68 analytes (stable isotopes and contaminants), and found that metamorphosis effects varied greatly. δ15N, widely used to estimate relative trophic position in biomagnification studies, was enriched by 1‰ during metamorphosis, while δ13C used to estimate diet, was similar in larvae and adults. Metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were predominantly lost during metamorphosis leading to 2 to 125-fold higher larval concentrations and higher exposure risks for predators of larvae compared to predators of adults. In contrast, manufactured organic contaminants (such as polychlorinated biphenyls) were retained and concentrated in adults, causing up to 3-fold higher adult concentrations and higher exposure risks to predators of adult insects. Both food web studies and contaminant management and mitigation strategies need to consider how metamorphosis affects the movement of materials between habitats and ecosystems, with special regard for aquatic-terrestrial linkages.

  17. Land Use Affects Carbon Sources to the Pelagic Food Web in a Small Boreal Lake.

    PubMed

    Rinta, Päivi; van Hardenbroek, Maarten; Jones, Roger I; Kankaala, Paula; Rey, Fabian; Szidat, Sönke; Wooller, Matthew J; Heiri, Oliver

    2016-01-01

    Small humic forest lakes often have high contributions of methane-derived carbon in their food webs but little is known about the temporal stability of this carbon pathway and how it responds to environmental changes on longer time scales. We reconstructed past variations in the contribution of methanogenic carbon in the pelagic food web of a small boreal lake in Finland by analyzing the stable carbon isotopic composition (δ13C values) of chitinous fossils of planktivorous invertebrates in sediments from the lake. The δ13C values of zooplankton remains show several marked shifts (approx. 10 ‰), consistent with changes in the proportional contribution of carbon from methane-oxidizing bacteria in zooplankton diets. The results indicate that the lake only recently (1950s) obtained its present state with a high contribution of methanogenic carbon to the pelagic food web. A comparison with historical and palaeobotanical evidence indicates that this most recent shift coincided with agricultural land-use changes and forestation of the lake catchment and implies that earlier shifts may also have been related to changes in forest and land use. Our study demonstrates the sensitivity of the carbon cycle in small forest lakes to external forcing and that the effects of past changes in local land use on lacustrine carbon cycling have to be taken into account when defining environmental and ecological reference conditions in boreal headwater lakes. PMID:27487044

  18. Guano-Derived Nutrient Subsidies Drive Food Web Structure in Coastal Ponds

    PubMed Central

    Vizzini, Salvatrice; Signa, Geraldina; Mazzola, Antonio

    2016-01-01

    A stable isotope study was carried out seasonally in three coastal ponds (Marinello system, Italy) affected by different gull guano input to investigate the effect of nutrient subsidies on food web structure and dynamics. A marked 15N enrichment occurred in the pond receiving the highest guano input, indicating that gull-derived fertilization (guanotrophication) had a strong localised effect and flowed across trophic levels. The main food web response to guanotrophication was an overall erosion of the benthic pathway in favour of the planktonic. Subsidized primary consumers, mostly deposit feeders, switched their diet according to organic matter source availability. Secondary consumers and, in particular, fish from the guanotrophic pond, acted as couplers of planktonic and benthic pathways and showed an omnivorous trophic behaviour. Food web structure showed substantial variability among ponds and a marked seasonality in the subsidized one: an overall simplification was evident only in summer when guano input maximises its trophic effects, while higher trophic diversity and complexity resulted when guano input was low to moderate. PMID:26953794

  19. Lipids of Prokaryotic Origin at the Base of Marine Food Webs

    PubMed Central

    de Carvalho, Carla C. C. R.; Caramujo, Maria José

    2012-01-01

    In particular niches of the marine environment, such as abyssal trenches, icy waters and hot vents, the base of the food web is composed of bacteria and archaea that have developed strategies to survive and thrive under the most extreme conditions. Some of these organisms are considered “extremophiles” and modulate the fatty acid composition of their phospholipids to maintain the adequate fluidity of the cellular membrane under cold/hot temperatures, elevated pressure, high/low salinity and pH. Bacterial cells are even able to produce polyunsaturated fatty acids, contrarily to what was considered until the 1990s, helping the regulation of the membrane fluidity triggered by temperature and pressure and providing protection from oxidative stress. In marine ecosystems, bacteria may either act as a sink of carbon, contribute to nutrient recycling to photo-autotrophs or bacterial organic matter may be transferred to other trophic links in aquatic food webs. The present work aims to provide a comprehensive review on lipid production in bacteria and archaea and to discuss how their lipids, of both heterotrophic and chemoautotrophic origin, contribute to marine food webs. PMID:23342392

  20. Habitat modification alters the structure of tropical host-parasitoid food webs.

    PubMed

    Tylianakis, Jason M; Tscharntke, Teja; Lewis, Owen T

    2007-01-11

    Global conversion of natural habitats to agriculture has led to marked changes in species diversity and composition. However, it is less clear how habitat modification affects interactions among species. Networks of feeding interactions (food webs) describe the underlying structure of ecological communities, and might be crucially linked to their stability and function. Here, we analyse 48 quantitative food webs for cavity-nesting bees, wasps and their parasitoids across five tropical habitat types. We found marked changes in food-web structure across the modification gradient, despite little variation in species richness. The evenness of interaction frequencies declined with habitat modification, with most energy flowing along one or a few pathways in intensively managed agricultural habitats. In modified habitats there was a higher ratio of parasitoid to host species and increased parasitism rates, with implications for the important ecosystem services, such as pollination and biological control, that are performed by host bees and wasps. The most abundant parasitoid species was more specialized in modified habitats, with reduced attack rates on alternative hosts. Conventional community descriptors failed to discriminate adequately among habitats, indicating that perturbation of the structure and function of ecological communities might be overlooked in studies that do not document and quantify species interactions. Altered interaction structure therefore represents an insidious and functionally important hidden effect of habitat modification by humans.

  1. Development of a dynamic model for estimating the food web transfer of chemicals in small aquatic ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Nfon, Erick; Armitage, James M; Cousins, Ian T

    2011-11-15

    A dynamic combined fate and food web model was developed to estimate the food web transfer of chemicals in small aquatic ecosystems (i.e. ponds). A novel feature of the modeling approach is that aquatic macrophytes (submerged aquatic vegetation) were included in the fate model and were also a food item in the food web model. The paper aims to investigate whether macrophytes are effective at mitigating chemical exposure and to compare the modeling approach developed here with previous modeling approaches recommended in the European Union (EU) guideline for risk assessment of pesticides. The model was used to estimate bioaccumulation of three hypothetical chemicals of varying hydrophobicity in a pond food web comprising 11 species. Three different macrophyte biomass densities were simulated in the model experiments to determine the influence of macrophytes on fate and bioaccumulation. Macrophytes were shown to have a significant effect on the fate and food web transfer of highly hydrophobic compounds with log KOW>=5. Modeled peak concentrations in biota were highest for the scenarios with the lowest macrophyte biomass density. The distribution and food web transfer of the hypothetical compound with the lowest hydrophobicity (log KOW=3) was not affected by the inclusion of aquatic macrophytes in the pond environment. For the three different hypothetical chemicals and at all macrophyte biomass densities, the maximum predicted concentrations in the top predator in the