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Weighting and indirect effects identify keystone species in food webs

Zhao, Lei and Zhang, Huayong and O'Gorman, Eoin J and Tian, Wang and Ma, Athen and Moore, John C and Borrett, Stuart R and Woodward, Guy (2016) 'Weighting and indirect effects identify keystone species in food webs.' Ecology Letters, 19 (9). pp. 1032-1040. ISSN 1461-023X

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Species extinctions are accelerating globally, yet the mechanisms that maintain local biodiversity remain poorly understood. The extinction of species that feed on or are fed on by many others (i.e. ‘hubs’) has traditionally been thought to cause the greatest threat of further biodiversity loss. Very little attention has been paid to the strength of those feeding links (i.e. link weight) and the prevalence of indirect interactions. Here, we used a dynamical model based on empirical energy budget data to assess changes in ecosystem stability after simulating the loss of species according to various extinction scenarios. Link weight and/or indirect effects had stronger effects on food‐web stability than the simple removal of ‘hubs’, demonstrating that both quantitative fluxes and species dissipating their effects across many links should be of great concern in biodiversity conservation, and the potential for ‘hubs’ to act as keystone species may have been exaggerated to date.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Carbon flux; centrality; energy budget; quantitative food web; robustness; secondary extinction; sequential deletion; species loss
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 13:53
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:59

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