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Stepping in Elton's footprints: a general scaling model for body masses and trophic levels across ecosystems
J.F. Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, Systemic Conservation Biology Group, Georg-August University Goettingen, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.
J.F. Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, Systemic Conservation Biology Group, Georg-August University Goettingen, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.
IFM Theory and Modelling, Division of Theoretical Biology, Linköping University, S-581 83 Linköping, Sweden.
Institute for Hydrobiology and Fisheries Science, University Hamburg, 22767 Hamburg, Germany.
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2011 (English)In: Ecology Letters, ISSN 1461-023X, E-ISSN 1461-0248, Vol. 14, no 2, 169-178 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite growing awareness of the significance of body-size and predator–prey body-mass ratios for the stability of ecological networks, our understanding of their distribution within ecosystems is incomplete. Here, we study the relationships between predator and prey size, body-mass ratios and predator trophic levels using body-mass estimates of 1313 predators (invertebrates, ectotherm and endotherm vertebrates) from 35 food-webs (marine, stream, lake and terrestrial). Across all ecosystem and predator types, except for streams (which appear to have a different size structure in their predator–prey interactions), we find that (1) geometric mean prey mass increases with predator mass with a power-law exponent greater than unity and (2) predator size increases with trophic level. Consistent with our theoretical derivations, we show that the quantitative nature of these relationships implies systematic decreases in predator–prey body-mass ratios with the trophic level of the predator. Thus, predators are, on an average, more similar in size to their prey at the top of food-webs than that closer to the base. These findings contradict the traditional Eltonian paradigm and have implications for our understanding of body-mass constraints on food-web topology, community dynamics and stability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing Ltd. , 2011. Vol. 14, no 2, 169-178 p.
Keyword [en]
Allometry, body-size ratio, ecological networks, food-webs, predation, predator–prey interactions
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-5178DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01568.xISI: 000286599600012PubMedID: 21199248Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-78751689859OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-5178DiVA: diva2:428968
Available from: 2011-07-01 Created: 2011-07-01 Last updated: 2012-12-14Bibliographically approved

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