Document Detail

The role of body mass in diet contiguity and food-web structure.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21401590     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
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.
Daniel B Stouffer; Enrico L Rezende; Luís A Nunes Amaral
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2011-03-14
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of animal ecology     Volume:  80     ISSN:  1365-2656     ISO Abbreviation:  J Anim Ecol     Publication Date:  2011 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-04-05     Completed Date:  2011-07-26     Revised Date:  2013-10-18    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376574     Medline TA:  J Anim Ecol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  632-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society.
Integrative Ecology Group, Estación Biológica de Doñana-CSIC, c/ Américo Vespucio s/n, 41092 Sevilla, Spain.
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MeSH Terms
Biological Evolution
Body Size*
Food Chain*
Models, Biological*
Grant Support
//Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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