Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 13–24 | Cite as

How trophic interaction strength depends on traits

A conceptual framework for representing multidimensional trophic niche spaces
Original paper

Abstract

A key problem in community ecology is to understand how individual-level traits give rise to population-level trophic interactions. Here, we propose a synthetic framework based on ecological considerations to address this question systematically. We derive a general functional form for the dependence of trophic interaction coefficients on trophically relevant quantitative traits of consumers and resources. The derived expression encompasses—and thus allows a unified comparison of—several functional forms previously proposed in the literature. Furthermore, we show how a community’s, potentially low-dimens ional, effective trophic niche space is related to its higher-dimensional phenotypic trait space. In this manner, we give ecological meaning to the notion of the “dimensionality of trophic niche space.” Our framework implies a method for directly measuring this dimensionality. We suggest a procedure for estimating the relevant parameters from empirical data and for verifying that such data matches the assumptions underlying our derivation.

Keywords

Food webs Niche space Interaction strength Evolution 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. Rossberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Å Brännström
    • 2
    • 3
  • U. Dieckmann
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  2. 2.Evolution and Ecology ProgramInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)LaxenburgAustria
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and Mathematical StatisticsUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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