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Size, foraging, and food web structure

Petchey, O.L., Beckerman, A.P., Riede, J.O. and Warren, P.H. (2008) Size, foraging, and food web structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United, 105 (11). pp. 4191-4196. ISSN 1091-6490

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Understanding what structures ecological communities is vital to answering questions about extinctions, environmental change, trophic cascades, and ecosystem functioning. Optimal foraging theory was conceived to increase such understanding by providing a framework with which to predict species interactions and resulting community structure. Here, we use an optimal foraging model and allometries of foraging variables to predict the structure of real food webs. The qualitative structure of the resulting model provides a more mechanistic basis for the phenomenological rules of previous models. Quantitative analyses show that the model predicts up to 65% of the links in real food webs. The deterministic nature of the model allows analysis of the model's successes and failures in predicting particular interactions. Predacious and herbivorous feeding interactions are better predicted than pathogenic, parasitoid, and parasitic interactions. Results also indicate that accurate prediction and modeling of some food webs will require incorporating traits other than body size and diet choice models specific to different types of feeding interaction. The model results support the hypothesis that individual behavior, subject to natural selection, determines individual diets and that food web structure is the sum of these individual decisions.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2008 14:47
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2008 14:47
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0710672105
Status: Published
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.0710672105
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3727

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