A central issue in ecology is understanding how complex and biodiverse food webs persist in the face of disturbance, and which structural properties affect disturbance propagation among species. However, our comprehension of assemblage mechanisms and disturbance propagation in food webs is limited by the multitude of stressors affecting ecosystems, impairing ecosystem management. By analysing directional food web components connecting species along food chains, we show that increasing species richness and constant feeding linkage density promote the establishment of predictable food web structures, in which the proportion of species co-present in one or more food chains is lower than what would be expected by chance. This reduces the intrinsic vulnerability of real food webs to disturbance propagation in comparison to random webs, and suggests that biodiversity conservation efforts should also increase the potential of ecological communities to buffer top-down and bottom-up disturbance in ecosystems. The food web patterns observed here have not been noticed before, and could also be explored in non-natural networks.

Species richness and vulnerability to disturbance propagation in real food webs / Calizza, Edoardo; Rossi, Loreto; Careddu, Giulio; Sporta Caputi, Simona; Costantini, Maria Letizia. - In: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS. - ISSN 2045-2322. - 9(2019). [10.1038/s41598-019-55960-8]

Species richness and vulnerability to disturbance propagation in real food webs

Calizza, Edoardo
;
Rossi, Loreto;Careddu, Giulio;Sporta Caputi, Simona;Costantini, Maria Letizia
2019

Abstract

A central issue in ecology is understanding how complex and biodiverse food webs persist in the face of disturbance, and which structural properties affect disturbance propagation among species. However, our comprehension of assemblage mechanisms and disturbance propagation in food webs is limited by the multitude of stressors affecting ecosystems, impairing ecosystem management. By analysing directional food web components connecting species along food chains, we show that increasing species richness and constant feeding linkage density promote the establishment of predictable food web structures, in which the proportion of species co-present in one or more food chains is lower than what would be expected by chance. This reduces the intrinsic vulnerability of real food webs to disturbance propagation in comparison to random webs, and suggests that biodiversity conservation efforts should also increase the potential of ecological communities to buffer top-down and bottom-up disturbance in ecosystems. The food web patterns observed here have not been noticed before, and could also be explored in non-natural networks.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1340744
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