3 research outputs found

    Systematic variation in food web body-size structure linked to external subsidies.

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    The relationship between body mass (M) and size class abundance (N) depicts patterns of community structure and energy flow through food webs. While the general assumption is that M and N scale linearly (on log-log axes), nonlinearity is regularly observed in natural systems, and is theorized to be driven by nonlinear scaling of trophic level (TL) with M resulting in the rapid transfer of energy to consumers in certain size classes. We tested this hypothesis with data from 31 stream food webs. We predicted that allochthonous subsidies higher in the web results in nonlinear M-TL relationships and systematic abundance peaks in macroinvertebrate and fish size classes (latter containing salmonids), that exploit terrestrial plant material and terrestrial invertebrates, respectively. Indeed, both M-N and M-TL significantly deviated from linear relationships and the observed curvature in M-TL scaling was inversely related to that observed in M-N relationships. Systemic peaks in M-N, and troughs in M-TL occurred in size classes dominated by generalist invertebrates, and brown trout. Our study reveals how allochthonous resources entering high in the web systematically shape community size structure and demonstrates the relevance of a generalized metabolic scaling model for understanding patterns of energy transfer in energetically 'open' food webs

    New strategies for sustainable fisheries management: A case study of Atlantic salmon

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    This briefing paper considers the alarming declines in fish stocks in recent years, and how holistic, integrated approaches can help manage fish stocks within biologically sustainable limits. Using Atlantic salmon as a case study, the authors highlight the challenges facing fisheries management and conservation, and the implications for policy and management

    Bending the rules: exploitation of allochthonous resources by a top-predator modifies size-abundance scaling in stream food webs

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    Body mass–abundance (M‐N) allometries provide a key measure of community structure, and deviations from scaling predictions could reveal how cross‐ecosystem subsidies alter food webs. For 31 streams across the UK, we tested the hypothesis that linear log‐log M‐N scaling is shallower than that predicted by allometric scaling theory when top predators have access to allochthonous prey. These streams all contained a common and widespread top predator (brown trout) that regularly feeds on terrestrial prey and, as hypothesised, deviations from predicted scaling increased with its dominance of the fish assemblage. Our study identifies a key beneficiary of cross‐ecosystem subsidies at the top of stream food webs and elucidates how these inputs can reshape the size‐structure of these ‘open’ systems