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Trophic Uncertainty vs Parsimony in Food Web Research

Debal Deb
Oikos
Vol. 78, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 191-194
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3545816
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3545816
Page Count: 4
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Trophic Uncertainty vs Parsimony in Food Web Research
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Abstract

Gut content analysis (GCA) is the most widely accepted method for generalising about a species' food habits. GCA is valuable if the purpose of the study is to determine the frequency or strength of interactions between species, or to establish new food links. However, determining all food links through GCA is impossible for large speciose webs. Furthermore, GCA may not reveal the true nature of linkage dynamics due to environmental and physiological stochasticity. It is therefore parsimonious to assume that linkages between species recorded in the literature will be found in all food webs, if the same prey and predator species occur in those systems. To reveal new linkages, fresh GCA is desirable, but impracticable for large speciose webs containing many rare and endangered species, in which case it may be replaced by several non-dissective methods. High-resolution data for tropical webs could be generated through observations made by trained indigenous peoples.

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