Ecological Research

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 521–527 | Cite as

Resource productivity and availability impacts for food-chain length

  • Hideyuki Doi
Miyadi Award


Ecologists have focused on food-chain length (FCL) for the past eight decades as an index of food-web structure. Here, I review the hypotheses determining FCL with a focus on resource productivity and availability effects on FCL. First, I introduce the mainstream hypotheses to explain FCL variations: productivity, ecosystem size, and disturbance. For the existing productivity and productive space hypotheses, I stress the importance of using resource availability to estimate the productivity effect on FCL. Using a FCL dataset from 15 ponds, I tested the resource stoichiometry effect on FCL for ponds with between carbon:nitrogen ratio of primary producers and FCL. Moreover, I provide a perspective for studying resource availability and stoichiometry effects on FCL and of the alternative hypotheses of productive-space and ecosystem size. Finally, I suggest the future directions of the FCL study: a resource subsidy and climate change effects on FCL and food-web structure.


Food web Primary production Ecosystem size Subsidy Ecological stoichiometry 



This paper is based on the awarded lecture for the 14th Denzaburo Miyadi Award at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Japan, March 18, 2010. I appreciate the assistance of all advisors and colleagues for my previous studies. I want to especially mention my supervisor and advisors; Helmut Hillebrand, Eisuke Kikuchi, Shin-ichi Nakano, Daniel E. Schindler, and Yasuhiro Takemon. I thank Helmut Hillebrand and Takafumi Nakazawa, and Gaku Takimoto for their comments on an early version of the manuscript. The study supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research Abroad.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine EnvironmentCarl-von-Ossietzky University OldenburgWilhelmshavenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Sustainable Sciences and Development, 701-3, ASoMHiroshima UniversityHigashihiroshimaJapan

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