Many empirical food webs contain multiple resources, which can lead to the emergence of sub-communities—partitions—in a food web that are weakly connected with each other. These partitions interact and affect the complete food web. However, the fact that food webs can contain multiple resources is often neglected when describing food web assembly theoretically, by considering only a single resource. We present an allometric, evolutionary food web model and include two resources of different sizes. Simulations show that an additional resource can lead to the emergence of partitions, i.e. groups of species that specialise on different resources. For certain arrangements of these partitions, the interactions between them alter the food web properties. First, these interactions increase the variety of emerging network structures, since hierarchical bodysize relationships are weakened. Therefore, they could play an important role in explaining the variety of food web structures that is observed in empirical data. Second, interacting partitions can destabilise the population dynamics by introducing indirect interactions with a certain strength between predator and prey species, leading to biomass oscillations and evolutionary intermittence.
Evolutionary food web models: effects of an additional resource
Theoretical Ecology 9, 501-512, 2016.
permanent link: http://www.for1748.de/papers/RitterskampEtAl2016