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Food-web structure mediates dramatic effects of biodiversity loss including secondary and 'cascading' extinctions. We studied these effects by simulating primary species loss in 16 food webs from terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and measuring robustness in terms of the secondary extinctions that followed. As observed in other networks, food webs are more(More)
It has been suggested that differences in body size between consumer and resource species may have important implications for interaction strengths, population dynamics, and eventually food web structure, function, and evolution. Still, the general distribution of consumer-'resource body-size ratios in real ecosystems, and whether they vary systematically(More)
Darwin's classic image of an "entangled bank" of interdependencies among species has long suggested that it is difficult to predict how the loss of one species affects the abundance of others. We show that for dynamical models of realistically structured ecological networks in which pair-wise consumer-resource interactions allometrically scale to the (3/4)(More)
Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a(More)
Two largely independent bodies of scaling theory address the quantitative relationships between habitat area, species diversity and trophic interactions. Spatial theory within macroecology addresses how species richness scales with area in landscapes, while typically ignoring interspecific interactions. Complexity theory within community ecology addresses(More)
A central and perhaps insurmountable challenge of invasion ecology is to predict which combinations of species and habitats most effectively promote and prevent biological invasions. Here, we integrate models of network structure and nonlinear population dynamics to search for potential generalities among trophic factors that may drive invasion success and(More)
Parasitism is the most common consumer strategy among organisms, yet only recently has there been a call for the inclusion of infectious disease agents in food webs. The value of this effort hinges on whether parasites affect food-web properties. Increasing evidence suggests that parasites have the potential to uniquely alter food-web topology in terms of(More)
Comparative research on food web structure has revealed generalities in trophic organization, produced simple models, and allowed assessment of robustness to species loss. These studies have mostly focused on free-living species. Recent research has suggested that inclusion of parasites alters structure. We assess whether such changes in network structure(More)