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Productivity, Disturbance and Food Web Structure at a Local Spatial Scale in Experimental Container Habitats
B. Jenkins, R. L. Kitching and S. L. Pimm
Vol. 65, No. 2 (Nov., 1992), pp. 249-255
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3545016
Page Count: 7
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We report the results of an experiment using water-filled container analogues of natural treeholes placed in a subtropical rainforest. The source of energy in both experimental and natural systems is detrital leaves. This feature allows the productivity of the systems to be controlled and the effects on various aspects of food web structure to be measured. Ten-fold and hundred-fold reductions in energy input reduced food chain lengths by an extra link. The principal predator was less prevalent in less productive habitat units. Food webs with fewer trophic links and fewer species were found in habitat units that were less productive. Numbers of species, trophic links and abundance of the most common prey species increased during food web assembly. Interestingly, a natural perturbation created by low rainfall caused numbers of species, trophic links and food chain length to be temporarily reduced at 36 weeks. The effect on food chain length was most marked in the most productive system. This demonstrated the influence of dynamic constraints at a local spatial scale during food web assembly. While relatively long food chains were possible only in the most productive systems, these systems were especially vulnerable to external perturbations.
Oikos © 1992 Nordic Society Oikos