Scaling of Food-Web Properties with Diversity and Complexity Across Ecosystems

J.O. Riede, B.C. Rall, C. Banasek-Richter, S.A. Navarrete, E.A. Wieters, Mark Emmerson, U. Jacob, U. Brose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Trophic scaling models describe how topological food-web properties such as the number of predator prey links scale with species richness of the community. Early models predicted that either the link density (i.e. the number of links per species) or the connectance (i.e. the linkage probability between any pair of species) is constant across communities. More recent analyses, however, suggest that both these scaling models have to be rejected, and we discuss several hypotheses that aim to explain the scale dependence of these complexity parameters. Based on a recent, highly resolved food-web compilation, we analysed the scaling behaviour of 16 topological parameters and found significant power law scaling relationships with diversity (i.e. species richness) and complexity (i.e. connectance) for most of them. These results illustrate the lack of universal constants in food-web ecology as a function of diversity or complexity. Nonetheless, our power law scaling relationships suggest that fundamental processes determine food-web topology, and subsequent analyses demonstrated that ecosystem-specific differences in these relationships were of minor importance. As such, these newly described scaling relationships provide robust and testable cornerstones for future structural food-web models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-170
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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