Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 195–208 | Cite as

Why allometric scaling enhances stability in food web models

  • Boris Kartascheff
  • Lotta Heckmann
  • Barbara Drossel
  • Christian GuillEmail author
Original Paper


It has recently been shown that the incorporation of allometric scaling into the dynamic equations of food web models enhances network stability if predators are assigned a higher body mass than their prey. We investigate the underlying mechanisms leading to this stability increase. The dynamic equations can be written such that allometric scaling influences these equations at three places: the time scales of predator and prey dynamics become separated, the energy outflow to the predators is decreased, and intraspecific competition is increased relative to metabolic rates. For five food web topologies and various network sizes (i.e., species richness), we study the effect of each of these modifications on the percentage of surviving species separately and find that the decreased interaction strengths and the increased intraspecific competition are responsible for the enhanced stability. We also investigate the range of parameter values for which an enhanced stability is observed.


Metabolic theory Population dynamics Complexity–stability relation Time scale effect Interaction strength Intraspecific competition 



C.G. is supported by the German Research Foundation (BR 2315/9-1). We are grateful for comments and help by Ulrich Brose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boris Kartascheff
    • 1
  • Lotta Heckmann
    • 1
  • Barbara Drossel
    • 1
  • Christian Guill
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Condensed Matter PhysicsDarmstadt University of TechnologyDarmstadtGermany

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