Inferring food web structure from predator-prey body size relationships

Gravel, Dominique, Poisot, Timothée, Albouy, Camille, Velez, Laure, and Mouillot, David (2013) Inferring food web structure from predator-prey body size relationships. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4 (11). pp. 1083-1090.

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Abstract

1. Current global changes make it important to be able to predict which interactions will occur in the emerging ecosystems. Most of the current methods to infer the existence of interactions between two species require a good knowledge of their behaviour or a direct observation of interactions. In this paper, we overcome these limitations by developing a method, inspired from the niche model of food web structure, using the statistical relationship between predator and prey body size to infer the matrix of potential interactions among a pool of species.

2. The novelty of our approach is to infer, for any species of a given species pool, the three species-specific parameters of the niche model. The method applies to both local and metaweb scales. It allows one to evaluate the feeding interactions of a new species entering the community.

3. We find that this method gives robust predictions of the structure of food webs and that its efficiency is increased when the strength of the body-size relationship between predators and preys increases.

4. We finally illustrate the potential of the method to infer the metaweb structure of pelagic fishes of the Mediterranean sea under different global change scenarios.

Item ID: 33001
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2041-210X
Keywords: metaweb, body size, niche model, food web
Funders: NSERC, Canada Research Chair programme, MELS-FQRNT
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 10:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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