Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 223–237 | Cite as

A patch-dynamic framework for food web metacommunities

  • Pradeep PillaiEmail author
  • Michel Loreau
  • Andrew Gonzalez
Original paper


The metacommunity concept has proved to be a valuable tool for studying how space can affect the properties and assembly of competitive communities. However, the concept has not been as extensively applied to the study of food webs or trophically structured communities. Here, we demonstrate how to develop a modelling framework that permits food webs to be considered from a spatial perspective. We do this by broadening the classic metapopulation patch-dynamic framework so that it can also account for trophic interactions between many species and patches. Unlike previous metacommunity models, we argue that this requires a system of equations to track the changing patch occupancy of the various species interactions, not the patch occupancy of individual species. We then suggest how this general theoretical framework can be used to study complex and spatially extended food web metacommunities.


Food webs Metacommunities Trophic interactions Patch-dynamic models Metapopulation theory Predator–prey 



We would like to thank M. Cherif, S. Leroux, Z. Long, C. de Mazancourt and F. Guichard for useful comments and discussions. A. Gonzalez and M. Loreau are supported by the Canada Research Chair program, NSERC Discovery grants, and an FQRNT team grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pradeep Pillai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Loreau
    • 1
  • Andrew Gonzalez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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