Cause-Effect Relationships in Energy Flow, Trophic Structure, and Interspecific Interactions

  title={Cause-Effect Relationships in Energy Flow, Trophic Structure, and Interspecific Interactions},
  author={Nelson G. Hairston},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={379 - 411}
  • N. Hairston
  • Published 1 September 1993
  • Environmental Science
  • The American Naturalist
Measurements of the efficiency of energy transfer between trophic levels are consistent with the hypothesis that it is trophic structure that controls the fraction of energy consumed at each trophic level, rather than energetics controlling trophic structure. Moreover, trophic structure is determined by competitive and predator-prey interactions. In freshwater pelagic communities, the collective efficiency of herbivorous plankton in consuming primary producers is up to 10 times as great as is… 
The strength of trophic cascades across ecosystems: predictions from allometry and energetics
The roles of relative body sizes of predators and prey, their metabolic types, the production-to-biomass ratio of plants, and system productivity in determining the strength of the indirect effects of predators on plants are explored.
Is Pelagic Top-down Control in Lakes Augmented by Benthic Energy Pathways?
This uncoupling between trophic dynamics (piscivores regulate prey fish) and energy flow (zoobenthos in piscivore diets) is explored using a bio- mass dynamic model and highlights the role of benthic-pelagic linkages in regulating troPHic dynamics and the value of whole-ecosystem approaches to the study of food webs.
Size‐based interactions and trophic transfer efficiency are modified by fish predation and cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Mývatn, Iceland
The results indicate that both top-down and bottom-up forces significantly influence the size structure of planktonic communities, and underpins the importance of taking into account size-based interactions in the study of trophic cascades, particularly in a warming climate.
Top-down control in pelagic systems: a role for invertebrate predation
Compared to other zooplankton predators in the lake, it is found that, despite having much lower biomass, cyclopoid copepods accounted for a greater portion of the predation mortality on herbivorous zoopLankton than bleak.
It is argued for a more integrated view of lake ecosystems that recognizes the duality of benthic and pelagic production pathways, and food web models that explicitly consider energy flow from pelagic andbenthic sources will provide a more realistic energy flow template for understanding the regulation of lake ecosystem functioning.
A cross-ecosystem comparison of the strength of trophic cascades
Although trophic cascades (indirect effects of predators on plants via herbivores) occur in a wide variety of food webs, the magnitudes of their effects are often quite variable. We compared the
Organism life cycles, predation, and the structure of marine pelagic ecosystems
It is proposed that future research might profitably be directed toward the question of how the pelagic environment selects for life histories and morphologies of organisms under conditions when resource availability and predation are both significant structural buttresses.
Trophic Position of Consumers and Size Structure of Food Webs across Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems
Variations in body size of top predators suggest that terrestrial and many freshwater food webs are size compartmentalized, implying different trophic dynamics and responses to perturbations than in size-structured marine food webs.


Ecosystem-level patterns of primary productivity and herbivory in terrestrial habitats
Evidence is presented that herbivore biomass, consumption and produc-tivity are closely correlated with plant productivity, suggesting that the latter is a principal integrator and indicator of functional processes in food webs.
Resource Edibility and the Effects of Predators and Productivity on the Outcome of Trophic Interactions
A simple model is used to examine interactions among consumers and two types of resources that differ in edibility to predict the abundances of all three populations and confirms that the effects of predators and nutrients on consumers and resources predicted by the model differ when the consumer assemblage is dominated by a generalist herbivore.
Regulation of Lake Primary Productivity by Food Web Structure.
Food web effects and abiotic factors were equally potent regulators of primary production in these experiments, illustrating the effects of climatic factors and the natural dynamics of unmanipulated food web interactions.
Exploitation Ecosystems in Gradients of Primary Productivity
A reasonable fit between predictions and observations is found, although the sparsity of data and methodological uncertainties weaken the corroboration in several cases.
A terrestrial field experiment showing the impact of eliminating top predators on foliage damage
An experiment with lizards, spiders, herbivorous arthropods and sea grape, that indicates that the impact of top predators on producers depends on the relative strengths of interactions among the upper tropic levels.
Trophic cascades and phytoplankton community structure
The results suggest that the mechanisms underlying the tropic cascade are complex and that predators affect phytoplankton by altering nutrient recycling rates as well as zooplankon grazing rates.
Patterns of Primary Production and Herbivory in 25 North American Lake Ecosystems
The effects of nutrients and herbivory on phytoplankton biomass and production were examined, using data from 25 lakes studied for 2 to 6 years each. Variance among lakes was substantially greater
Ecological Energy Relationships at the Population Level
  • L. Slobodkin
  • Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 1960
In speculating on the future development of community ecology, it was suggested that certain generalizations now available, including the approximate constancy of ecological efficiency, restrict the development of possible theories, if only by the elimination of all conceivable theories whose predictions do not conform to the generalizations.
The Resource Limitation of Trophic Levels in Tropical Grassland Ecosystems
One feature of terrestrial ecosystems that is becoming widely recognized is the small proportion of primary production that is consumed by herbivores, and studies of the energy flow in small mammal communities have all found that less than 20% and sometimes only 2% of the primary production is utilized.
Trophic structure in southern Ontario streams
Examination of biomass and abundance of organisms at the nonpiscivorous fish, benthic invertebrate predator and nonpredator, and microcommunity trophic levels at 30 stream sites in southern Ontario suggested that this complementary distribution may be determined by fish predation on the invertebrates.