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Simple prediction of interaction strengths in complex food webs

Berlow, E. L. and Dunne, J. A. and Martinez, N. D. and Stark, P. B. and Williams, R. J. and Brose, Ulrich (2009):
Simple prediction of interaction strengths in complex food webs.
In: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF, pp. 187-191, 106, (1), [Online-Edition: http://apps.isiknowledge.com/full_record.do?product=WOS&sear...],
[Article]

Abstract

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 3/4 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.

Item Type: Article
Erschienen: 2009
Creators: Berlow, E. L. and Dunne, J. A. and Martinez, N. D. and Stark, P. B. and Williams, R. J. and Brose, Ulrich
Title: Simple prediction of interaction strengths in complex food webs
Language: English
Abstract:

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 3/4 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.

Journal or Publication Title: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF
Volume: 106
Number: 1
Divisions: 10 Department of Biology
10 Department of Biology > Ecoinformatics and computational ecology
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Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2009 06:10
Official URL: http://apps.isiknowledge.com/full_record.do?product=WOS&sear...
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