Document Detail

Phylogeny versus body size as determinants of food web structure.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22628467     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
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.
Russell E Naisbit; Rudolf P Rohr; Axel G Rossberg; Patrik Kehrli; Louis-Félix Bersier
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2012-05-23
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  279     ISSN:  1471-2954     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2012 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-07-12     Completed Date:  2012-12-11     Revised Date:  2013-08-25    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  3291-7     Citation Subset:  IM    
Unit of Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, Chemin du Musée 10, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland.
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MeSH Terms
Body Size*
Food Chain*
Fresh Water
Marine Biology
Models, Biological
Species Specificity

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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