We are experiencing a global extinction crisis as a result of climate change and human-induced alteration of natural habitats, with large predators at high trophic levels in food webs being particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, there is a scarcity of food web data that can be used to assess how species extinctions alter the structure and stability of temporally and spatially replicated networks. We established a series of large experimental mesocosms in a shallow subtidal benthic marine system and constructed food webs for each replicate. After 6 months of community assembly, we removed large predators from the core communities of 20 experimental food webs, based on the strength of their trophic interactions, and monitored the changes in the networks' structure and stability over an 8-month period. Our analyses revealed the importance of allometric relationships and size-structuring in natural communities as a means of preserving food web structure and sustainability, despite significant changes in the diversity, stability and productivity of the system.
|Number of pages||119|
|Journal||ADVANCES IN ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH: ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS, VOL 42|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|