Sabo, John L. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, California.
Gerber, Leah R. Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
- Effect of food chain length on plant biomass
- Supply and demand in food chain dynamics
- Determinants of food chain length
- Bioaccumulation of contaminants in top predators
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The study of the structure of feeding relationships among organisms in an ecosystem. Researchers focus on the interplay between feeding relationships and ecosystem attributes such as nutrient cycling, physical disturbance, or the rate of tissue production by plants and the accrual of detritus (dead organic material). Feeding or trophic relationships can be represented as a food web or as a food chain. Food webs depict trophic links between all species sampled in a habitat, whereas food chains simplify this complexity into linear arrays of interactions among trophic levels. Thus, trophic levels (for example, plants, herbivores, detritivores, and carnivores) are amalgamations of species that have similar feeding habits. (However, not all species consume prey on a single trophic level. Omnivores are species that feed on more than one trophic level.) See also: Ecology; Ecosystem; Food web
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