The top-down mechanism for body-mass-abundance scaling

Axel Rossberg, R. Ishii, T. Amemiya, K. Itoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Scaling relationships between mean body masses and abundances of species in multitrophic communities continue to be a subject of intense research and debate. The top-down mechanism explored in this paper explains the frequently observed inverse linear relationship between body mass and abundance (i.e., constant biomass) in terms of a balancing of resource biomasses by behaviorally and evolutionarily adapting foragers, and the evolutionary response of resources to this foraging pressure. The mechanism is tested using an allometric, multitrophic community model with a complex food web structure. It is a statistical model describing the evolutionary and population dynamics of tens to hundreds of species in a uniform way. Particularities of the model are the detailed representation of the evolution and interaction of trophic traits to reproduce topological food web patterns, prey switching behavior modeled after experimental observations, and the evolutionary adaptation of attack rates. Model structure and design are discussed. For model states comparable to natural communities, we find that (1) the body-mass-abundance scaling does not depend on the allometric scaling exponent of physiological rates in the form expected from the energetic equivalence rule or other bottom-up theories; (2) the scaling exponent of abundance as a function of body mass is approximately -1, independent of the allometric exponent for physiological rates assumed; (3) removal of top-down control destroys this pattern, and energetic equivalence is recovered. We conclude that the top-down mechanism is active in the model, and that it is a viable alternative to bottom-up mechanisms for controlling body-mass-abundance relations in natural communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-580
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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