Oecologia

, Volume 110, Issue 4, pp 567-575

Predation and food web structure along a habitat duration gradient

  • Daniel W. SchneiderAffiliated withDepartment of Urban and Regional Planning and Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 611 E. Lorado Taft Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, USA

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Abstract

Food web statistics showed a complex relationship with measures of habitat variability in temporary ponds. Connectance was highest in short-duration, highly variable habitats, and lowest in habitats of intermediate duration and variability. The number of links and links/taxon increased with increasing duration. Much of the variation in the food web statistics could be explained by a strong linear relationship between number of taxa and number of links/taxon and a quadratic relationship of taxa number with the number of links. However, after accounting for this variation, there remained a relationship of duration with links and links/taxon. The relationship between the food web statistics and duration corresponded to experimental evaluations of predation in these habitats that showed an increasing importance of predation in long-duration habitats. The food web statistics, however, missed threshold effects in the relationship between predation and habitat duration. Differences in food web statistics before and after a regional drought could be explained by a decrease in taxa number after the drought. Connectance was the most robust statistic in relation to taxa number, but was also the least sensitive to changes in habitat characteristics.

Key words Food webs   Predation   Habitat variability    Temporary ponds   Connectance