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How does global change affect the strength of trophic interactions?

Emmerson, M. and Bezemer, T.M. and Hunter, M.D. and Jones, T.H. and Masters, G.J. and Van Dam, N.M. (2004) How does global change affect the strength of trophic interactions? Basic and Applied Ecology, 5, 505-514. ISSN 1439-1791.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2004.09.001

Abstract

Recent research has generally shown that a small change in the number of species in a food web can have consequences both for community structure and ecosystem processes. However ‘change’ is not limited to just the number of species in a community, but might include an alteration to such properties as precipitation, nutrient cycling and temperature, all of which are correlated with productivity. Here we argue that predicted scenarios of global change will result in increased plant productivity. We model three scenarios of change using simple Lotka–Volterra dynamics, which explore how a global change in productivity might affect the strength of local species interactions and detail the consequences for community and ecosystem level stability. Our results indicate that (i) at local scales the average population size of consumers may decline because of poor quality food resources, (ii) that the strength of species interactions at equilibrium may become weaker because of reduced population size, and (iii) that species populations may become more variable and may take longer to recover from environmental or anthropogenic disturbances. At local scales interaction strengths encompass such properties as feeding rates and assimilation efficiencies, and encapsulate functionally important information with regard to ecosystem processes. Interaction strengths represent the pathways and transfer of energy through an ecosystem. We examine how such local patterns might be affected given various scenarios of ‘global change’ and discuss the consequences for community stability and ecosystem functioning. [KEYWORDS: Community; Ecosystems; Food webs; Herbivore; Plant; Predators; Prey; Stability]

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:11513
Deposited On:23 Nov 2011 01:00
Last Modified:31 Mar 2014 09:59

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