Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 153–159

Feedback spectra of soil food webs across a complexity gradient, and the importance of three-species loops to stability

Brief Communication

Abstract

It has been shown that in real food webs, the strongest omnivorous feedback, a three-link positive feedback, is a good indicator of system stability, suggesting that the strongest positive feedback in a food web could be the Achilles heel of stability. However, the complete spectrum of feedbacks in observed food webs has never been analyzed. Here, we have quantified all the feedbacks in 32 soil food webs along a complexity gradient, including trophic feedbacks and feedbacks resulting from recycling of organic matter. We found that, although the maximum omnivorous feedback was rarely the strongest positive feedback in a system, it stood out over longer and stronger feedbacks as the indicator of stability. The results emphasize the importance of small substructures in complex networks.

Keywords

Food webs Loop weight analysis Feedback Omnivory 

References

  1. Allesina S, Pascual M (2008) Theoretical Ecology 1:55–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. de Ruiter PC, Neutel AM, Moore JC (1995) Energetics, patterns of interaction strengths, and stability in real ecosystems. Science 269:1257–1260PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. DeAngelis D, Bartell S, Brenkert A (1989) Am Nat 134:778–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hofbauer J, Sigmund K (1988) Cambridge University Press, New York, NY(USA) 1988Google Scholar
  5. Holt R, Polis G (1979) Am Nat 149:745–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hunt HW, Coleman DC, Ingham ER, Ingham RE, Elliott ET, Moore JC, Rose SL, Reid CPP, Morley CR (1987) The detrital foodweb in a shortgrass praririe. Biol Fertil Soils 3:57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Huxel G, McCann K, Polis G (2002) Ecol Res 17:419–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Levins R (1974) Ann NY Acad Sci 231:123–138PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Levins R (1975) Ecology and evolution of communities. Belknap Press, Cambridge. pp 16–50Google Scholar
  10. May RM (1972) Will a large complex system be stable? Nature 238:413–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Neutel AM, Heesterbeek JAP, de Ruiter PC (2002) Science 296:1120–1123PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Neutel AM, Heesterbeek JAP, van de Koppel J, Hoenderboom G, Vos A, Kaldeway C, Berendse F, de Ruiter PC (2007) Nature 449:559–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Odum H (1971) Fundamentals of ecology. Wiley, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  14. Pimm S, Lawton J (1978) Nature 275:542–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schoener TW (1989) Food webs from the small to the large: The Robert H. MacArthur award lecture. Ecology 70(6):1559–1589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Williams R, Berlow E, Dunne J, Barabási A, Martinez N (2002) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:12913PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.British Antarctic Survey, High CrossCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations