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Predator traits determine food-web architecture across ecosystems

Brose, Ulrich and Archambault, Phillippe and Barnes, Andrew D and Bersier, Louis-Felix and Boy, Thomas and Canning-Clode, João and Conti, Erminia and Dias, Marta and Digel, Christoph and Dissanayake, Awantha and Flores, Augusto AV and Fussmann, Katarina and Gauzens, Benoit and Gray, Clare and Häussler, Johanna and Hirt, Myriam R and Jacob, Ute and Jochum, Malte and Kéfi, Sonia and McLaughlin, Orla and MacPherson, Muriel M and Latz, Ellen and Layer-Dobra, Katrin and Legagneux, Pierre and Li, Yuanheng and Madeira, Carolina and Martinez, Neo D and Mendonça, Vanessa and Mulder, Christian and Navarrete, Sergio A and O'Gorman, Eoin J and Ott, David and Paula, José and Perkins, Daniel and Piechnik, Denise and Pokrovsky, Ivan and Raffaelli, David and Rall, Björn C and Rosenbaum, Benjamin and Ryser, Remo and Silva, Ana and Sohlström, Esra H and Sokolova, Natalia and Thompson, Murray SA and Thompson, Ross M and Vermandele, Fanny and Vinagre, Catarina and Wang, Shaopeng and Wefer, Jori M and Williams, Richard J and Wieters, Evie and Woodward, Guy and Iles, Alison C (2019) 'Predator traits determine food-web architecture across ecosystems.' Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3 (6). pp. 919-927. ISSN 2397-334X

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Abstract

Predator–prey interactions in natural ecosystems generate complex food webs that have a simple universal body-size architecture where predators are systematically larger than their prey. Food-web theory shows that the highest predator–prey body-mass ratios found in natural food webs may be especially important because they create weak interactions with slow dynamics that stabilize communities against perturbations and maintain ecosystem functioning. Identifying these vital interactions in real communities typically requires arduous identification of interactions in complex food webs. Here, we overcome this obstacle by developing predator-trait models to predict average body-mass ratios based on a database comprising 290 food webs from freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems across all continents. We analysed how species traits constrain body-size architecture by changing the slope of the predator–prey body-mass scaling. Across ecosystems, we found high body-mass ratios for predator groups with specific trait combinations including (1) small vertebrates and (2) large swimming or flying predators. Including the metabolic and movement types of predators increased the accuracy of predicting which species are engaged in high body-mass ratio interactions. We demonstrate that species traits explain striking patterns in the body-size architecture of natural food webs that underpin the stability and functioning of ecosystems, paving the way for community-level management of the most complex natural ecosystems.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animals; Vertebrates; Body Size; Predatory Behavior; Ecosystem; Food Chain
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2022 13:26
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2022 13:26
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32554

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